“Julie & Julia” took me by surprise and will probably force me to use every bad pun I can cook up to garnish this sweet little film with equal parts appreciation and admiration. I didn’t know really what this movie was about prior to watching it other than it was based on a true story, but I’m somewhat of an Amy Adams fan after seeing her excellent screen-work in “Junebug”, “Enchanted”, and one of the more under-seen and under-appreciated films, “Sunshine Cleaning”, so it was only a matter of time before this came across my ‘telly” (fine, I’m American but sometimes wish we’d use some of these fun little phrases that Brits use, innit?).
Why you’ll like this:
Great acting; well told tight narrative; the food looks amazing
It didn’t take long to notice that “Julie & Julia” isn’t based on a true story, it’s based on two of them. Played by Meryl Streep we see the amazing Julia Child’s brush with French cooking and how she took on the challenge of learning the ways of a chef that soon blossomed into her own book. This is juxtaposed with the burgeoning life-crises of Julie Powell (Amy Adams) who decides she needs to jump-start her writing career once again by taking on every recipe in Child’s first book “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” with the deadline of one year, and blogging about it along the way.
Adams delivers a tone-perfect performance of a befuddled wife who loves to prance and complain about her issues and how nothing ever works out for her while railroading anyone who dares to listen to such self-centered drivel, but she maintains an air of sweetness that manages to never turn you off, because you actually care. No easy feat, that. Harder still? Streep’s continuing brilliance of portraying real people with extreme personalities. Seeing her onscreen and knowing that it’s Meryl Streep, yet completely buying into yet another performance, well, it’s worthy of every nomination she receives and frankly, she should perhaps teach a class to some of the elite A-listers who have forgotten how to be completely consumed as someone else (Deniro, Pacino, you could attend, please). In honesty, there were no poor performances here. Tucci is quickly growing as a must-have member and someone to look for, not merely be happy when he shows up. I was also highly pleased to see Jane Lynch in a role that didn’t require her normal audacious sense of humor, which I love, but I’m glad to see her have a chance to show her chops a bit more. She’s great and I hope to see her with more opportunity in the future.
Director Nora Ephron once again proves she’s quite capable of providing compelling narrative and I absolutely loved how a story could be told about two married women, with encouraging supportive husbands, and still maintain a great sense of dramatic need. I wish more stories were filmed without every driving action revolving around dashes to the airport to profess love and mend a misunderstanding. I know that it sells, but perhaps our cinematic tastes would be as well-rounded as Child’s Hollandaise sauce if we gave up the “Big Mac” of storytelling a little more often in favor of smaller indie films with more character and nuance.
Why you won’t like this:
No explosions; no grandiose magical kiss
No real complaints to report, other than the film quality was either oddly chosen or I watched a bad transfer with a rather bad yellow tint covering most scenes. However, I can’t say that even that held me down from enjoying a movie about two women cooking in different eras. Dealing with different issues, from communism to the internet. Now, when do I get Amy Adams to cook me a bunch of French food for a year?
3.5 out of 5 stars.
Starring: Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Stanely Tucci, Chris Messina, Jane Lynch
Director: Nora Ephron
Running Time: 2 hr. 3 min.
Release Date: August 7, 2009