Julie & Julia
Distributed by: Columbia Pictures
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
When Julie Powell moved from Brooklyn to Queens in 2002, she wasn’t quite certain what she wanted out of life. Her marriage was about the only pleasant thing she had going for her. Her writing career had been put on hold while she contributed to the couple’s income while working at the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation’s call center, answering calls ranging from complaints about the development of the property that used to house the World Trade Center and questions and concerns from the survivors of the September 11th attacks.
As she watches her other “friends” achieve their goals, she wonders at her own life’s direction. Thanks to a friend, Julie decides to create a blog about the one thing in her life - other than marriage and her cat - that she finds enjoyable: cooking. And so begins The Julie/Julia Project in which Julie writes about her attempt to cook every single recipe found in Julia Child’s cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
But this is just one side of the plot of the Nora Ephron film Julie & Julia. As we go through the recipes with Julie Powell, we are taken back to 1950s Paris where a young Julia Child searches for a useful way to pass the time in France while her husband Paul works for the United States Information Agency. As someone who has always contributed to society, for the first time Julia finds herself confused about her life’s direction. She discovers the art of French cooking and, despite the attitude she receives from nay-sayers, sets about mastering French recipes and creating a few of her own.
To create Julie & Julia, Nora Ephron designed a screenplay that was adapted from two books, Julie Powell’s The Julie/Julia Project and Julia Child’s My Life in France, an autobiography written with Alex Prud’homme. The result is a parallel between the lives of two women who were looking for direction and found hope and restoration in the art of cooking. As the movie progresses, it is evident that Julia Child has become something of an iconic figure to Julie Powell and a great influence on Julie as a person.
But the main theme of the film is that of a strong woman looking for direction, finding it in an unlikely place and struggling to hold on to it in the face of adversity. Both Julia Child and Julie Powell encourage us to follow our dreams despite what others might say about them. They also remind us that we can’t do it alone, as evidenced in the support shown Julia by her husband Paul and that of the support shown Julie by her husband Eric.
Portraying Julie Powell is none other than Amy Adams who is finding herself in quite a few film projects of late thanks to terrific performances in films like Enchanted, Doubt and Sunshine Cleaning. Anyone who may have seen Sunshine Cleaning would know that Amy Adams is no stranger to the role of a woman wondering how she ended up settling for less in life and searching for a new direction. Meryl Streep stars as Julia Child and just like every other performance Meryl Streep has ever given, her portrayal of Julia Child is simply amazing. Streep doesn’t just mimic Child, she becomes her - simply incredible. Stanley Tucci is adorable as Paul Child, Julia’s husband…and I never thought I would say that about this actor, though I must admit that he has always been a great in every role he has ever pursued. Chris Messina is Julie’s supportive husband, Eric. There are also some very memorable appearances by Linda Edmond, Helen Carey, Jane Lynch (in a surprising change from her role on Glee) and Mary Lynn Rajskub (of 24 fame).
Julie & Julia is a fun and extremely entertaining film with an important message for young woman setting off on their life’s journey. Many will find this to be a “chick flick” and I would tend to agree - men just might miss the point, although the message the movie sends can still benefit those of the male gender. I highly recommend this film to all of our readers of the female gender, especially those in need of some direction. Nora Ephron strikes gold with this film.