"Julie & Julia" has more food in it than just about any film I've ever seen. The characters eat, talk about, and prepare more food in the film's two hours than I've seen in some cooking shows and director Nora Ephron shoots the food so that it looks as amazing as the characters say it tastes. She makes the cooking look both challenging and inspiring, as well, so be prepared to come out of the theater craving Beef Bourguignon and copper cookware.
The film is based on two true stories. There's the tale of Julie Powell (Amy Adams), a despairing government worker and former aspiring writer who turns to blogging and cooking to save her sanity. Then there's the tale of Julia Child (Meryl Streep), who learns to cook and co-writes a cookbook first to give herself something to do, and then because she's finally found her vocation. What ties them together is Child's book "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," which is Powell's guidebook and Child's magnum opus.
Adams is charming as Powell, who is a deeply flawed but very sympathetic individual. Sure, she fights with her husband Eric (Chris Messina), has meltdowns when she has mishaps in the kitchen, and can be incredibly self-centered. But we've all had our moments like that, haven't we? And it's hard not to root for someone attempting the impossible Powell vows at the outset to prepare all 524 recipes in Child's book within the space of a year.
But when it comes to the impossible, nobody in the film has Child beat. Her
Streep is an incredibly talented actress, so it's no surprise that she brings Child to life and steals just about every scene she's in. There's more to Child than just her cooking and easily-imitated voice; Streep brings the woman to life as a person, complete with dreams and longings and a passion for her beloved husband. Tucci carries Paul Child easily, and while his role in the film seems rather secondary, he and Streep have a chemistry that makes the Childs' marriage thoroughly touching.
"Julie & Julia" has a few things to say about inspiration and where the ability to turn one's life around comes from, but it can also be enjoyed as just a charming film about two women whose love of cooking reshapes their lives. If you're looking for action or thrills and chills, you'll be disappointed, but if you love food and enjoy funny films about real people, this is a must-see.
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Ealasaid A. Haas is a local film buff and freelance writer.