Julie & Julia Review
By Rich Cline
Ephron reunites with Streep for this slightly overlong and very girly drama based on two true stories, both of which are involving and well-played. The comedy is earthy and real, and the film looks good enough to eat.
In 1949, Julia Child (Streep) is living in Paris with her diplomat husband (Tucci), looking to fill her spare time. She settles on cooking, and after completing Le Cordon Bleu teams up with two chefs (Emond and Carey) to write a French cookbook for the American market. In 2002 New York, Julie Powell (Adams) needs something to distract her from her job dealing with claims resulting from 9/11. With the encouragement of her husband (Messina), she decides to cook all 524 of Child's recipes in one year while blogging about the experience.
Ephron strains to make these two stories fit together. Besides Mastering the Art of French Cooking, the parallels between these two women's stories are a little forced, and the script leaves loose threads dangling, with the effect that the film feels somewhat unfinished. But Ephron does score points for linking the strands visually through dialog, themes and, yes, food. And the cinematography is truly beautiful, making each dish utterly tantalising. This is definitely not a movie to see on an empty stomach.
Of course, the film's real piäce de rÇsistance is Streep. She's clearly having a ball as the larger-than-life Julia, with that distinctive voice and unstoppable exuberance. Streep is such a master at finding tiny details in the character that we laugh before she even does anything funny. And when the emotions rise, it's truly moving. Her scenes with the terrific Tucci offer a remarkable portrayal of a lively, healthy marriage. By contrast, Powell's storyline feels almost distracting. But Adams is refreshingly off-type and also has great chemistry with Messina.
Ephron has some tricks up her sleeve, from recreating iconic TV-show footage to actually replaying that hysterical Saturday Night Live sketch in which Dan Aykroyd forever defined the perfect Julia Child impersonation (and it sometimes seems that Streep is actually doing Aykroyd-as-Child). Despite some sentimentality, it's a wonderfully feel-good movie about delicious food, strong women and life-sustaining relationships. And at the end you'll want to rush home and cook something seriously decadent. With real butter.
Facts and Figures
In Theaters: Friday 7th August 2009
Distributed by: Sony/Columbia Pictures
Production compaines: Columbia Pictures, Easy There Tiger Productions, Scott Rudin Productions
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 75%
Fresh: 160 Rotten: 52
Cast & Crew
Starring: Meryl Streep as Julia Child, Amy Adams as Julie Powell, Chris Messina as Eric Powell, Stanley Tucci as Paul Child, Linda Emond as Simone Beck, Helen Carey as Louisette Bertholle, Mary Lynn Rajskub as Sarah, Jane Lynch as Dorothy McWilliams, Joan Juliet Buck as Madame Brassart, Crystal Noelle as Ernestine, George Bartenieff as Chef Max Bugnard, Vanessa Ferlito as Cassie, Casey Wilson as Regina, Jillian Bach as Annabelle, Andrew Garman as John O'Brien