reviewed by Marc Glassman
Julie and Julia
Nora Ephron, director and script based on the book by Julie Powell and Julia Child’s memoir My Life in France.
Starring: Meryl Streep (Julia Child), Amy Adams (Julie Powell), Stanley Tucci (Paul Child), Chris Messina (Eric Powell), Linda Emond (Simone Beck), Helen Carey (Louisette Bertholle)
Julie and Julia—for August 7
Can you write your way to happiness? If there’s one filmmaker who could chart a literary course to bliss, it must be Nora Ephron, whose charming scripts include When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle. Her new film Julie and Julia is based on two autobiographies, one by a contemporary blogger, Julie Powell and the other by cooking star Julia Child.
What unites Julie and Julia are their mutual loves of cooking, brilliant choices in husbands and love of writing. What makes them different? 50 years of history—the rise and fall of feminism, the changing styles of being sophisticated women and the democratization of media.
Ephron’s film charts two lives: Julia Child’s in France in the ‘50s and Julie Powell’s in New York today. In 1950s Paris, we encounter the delightful, eccentric Julia Child, wife of diplomat Paul, who “finds herself” as a chef after taking a course at the famous Cordon Bleu school. Afterward, she embarks on a decade long journey to create the first great English language cookbook about French culinary arts: Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
In Queens just a few years ago, Julie Powell, the wife of magazine editor Eric, decides to “find herself” through Julia Child’s cookbook. Embarking on the Julie Julia project, she creates a blog in which she recounts her life through the cooking of every recipe in Child’s masterpiece of a cookbook.
A film like this is comparable to making a soufflé—it better be light, fluffy and tasty. Fortunately, Ephron has found the recipe for success: a fine script and two terrific performances. Amy Adams is as lovely and charming as Meg Ryan was in such previous Ephron successes as Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail. And Meryl Streep beautifully captures Julia Child—she has that smile, that lovely disregard for failure, that capacity for joy and that lilting, near soprano voice, down to perfection.
Just as You’ve Got Mail caught emails, Julie and Julia understands blogs. Ephron—who loves literature, publishing and bookshops—sees the ways in which storytelling and communication has evolved in the past decade and a half. This stylish comedy shows the spirit of independent woman in the world today—writing, cooking, loving and fighting for control in their lives. Julie and Julia is a gem: the date movie for a sophisticated couple to enjoy on a summer night.