Sunday, August 23, 2009

Julie & Julia - Mini-review

Julia Child's first cook book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, has made it to the top of the NY Times best seller's list, almost 50 years after it was first published. All because of a little film called Julie & Julia. I'm one of 22,000 people who purchased that book last week after seeing the movie, because I've just got to try that boeuf bourguignon recipe! (And even Amazon is back ordered, so I'm still waiting.)

I remember watching Julia Child on PBS growing up, and let me tell you, Meryl Streep nailed her. She, as always, has the perfect accent, and especially her joie de vivre. I felt like she made Julia Child a real person, and we were invited to this incredibly fun dinner party during her parts of the film. Her former assistant Sarah Moulton, who has her own Food Network show now, thinks Meryl Streep really captured Julia, too:

There’s a scene in the film when Julia is being put down by the dour female director of the Cordon Bleu where Julia was taking classes in Paris. Julia has just sit down to take her final exam and the director comments, “I don’t know why you want to do this, you are a terrible cook, but if you cook for Americans, they won’t know the difference.” Julia’s response in the film? She sticks out her tongue as the director walks out the door. The real Julia might have given the finger. She was so spontaneous, and yes, at times, a little crude. If somebody pissed her off, she might shout, “Balls!”
There's not a ton of conflict in Julia's story, just whether she'll get published (Gee, ya think?). The whole film is as light as a souffle, really. But I love Stanley Tucci's portrayal of her husband Paul, and it was so great to see a happily married couple on screen, with a sex life even! They would send out sexy Valentine's Day cards to their friends, and the film recreates on they photographed in the bath tub together!

I do adore Amy Adams, but I'm not sure she was the right pick for Julie, the blogger who cooked all 524 recipes in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking in one year. I have a feeling the real Julie swore a bit more, and was more snarky. As Amy played her, the parts where's she's being bitchy come off more whiny.

I enjoyed the film, but mostly the parts about Julia Child's life in France, based on her own memoir and letters she and Paul wrote during that time. Nora Ephron has made a nice film, but I'm glad I paid the matinee price. It's a love story to food and cooking, and as I said, drove me straight to Amazon where Julia's cook book is on sale for $22.

The film is 2 and a half to three stars. Enjoyable especially for Meryl as Julia, but you could wait to rent it.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, that's how I'm leaning.

    I enjoy Amy Adams alot, but seeing her in the previews for this one has made me waffle back and forth about seeing it at the theater. I'm sorta glad you confirmed what I was thinking. :)