Monday, July 20, 2009

Julie and Julia 2009: A Movie Review

meryl streep as julia child
(Meryl Streep as Julia Child. Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures.)

There is bread, and there is love. Sometimes there is both. In the upcoming film, Julie and Julia, Stanley Tucci, portraying Paul Child, the adoring husband of Julia, played by Meryl Streep, toasts her, saying: "You are the butter to my bread, the breath to my life." That quote encapsulates the overall tone of the film -- sweet, sincere, and deliciously uplifting.

The film is based on two bestselling memoirs: Julia Child's My Life in France, which was published posthumously, and Julie Powell's Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen.

The film is actually like two films: One tells the story of Julia Child's loving marriage to Paul and her rise to culinary fame in post-WWII France. The other tells the story of Julie Powell, who on the eve of her 30th birthday, gives herself a masochistic gift: Cook all 524 recipes in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. In one year. In her tiny Queens, NY apartment. With a cat. And an unbelievably supportive husband. And blog about it.

amy adams as julie powell
(Amy Adams as Julie Powell. Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures.)

Meryl Streep is extraordinary as Julia Child. She captures Julia's effervescence perfectly, not to mention her delightful way of saying, "do" as "dooooooo," yet never comes close to caricature. She's so charming that I found myself missing her when she wasn't on the screen.

Amy Adams and Chris Messina, who play Julie and Eric Powell, are well suited as actors. Though Adams has the meatier role, Messina does a fine job of making Eric's role interesting. In fact, at an LA movie-promoting event last week, Powell told Messina that his portrayal of her husband was so spot on, it "was freaky."

Ultimately the movie is a celebration of Julia Child and her remarkable influence on the culinary world. It is also a celebration of food bloggers and aspiring writers. For example, when Julie (Adams) says to Eric (Messina) late in the film, "I'm going to be a writer," he responds, without missing a beat, "You are a writer." (Food bloggers will no doubt be cheering at this point.)

Whether you're a dedicated foodie, a blogger, a Meryl Streep fan, or just a sucker for a good romantic comedy, you'll find much to like about this film. For those of you expecting an exact retelling of Powell's book, which was seasoned with wicked humor and stirred with expletives, just realize that the screenplay is loosely based on the book. As Julie Powell shared with her audience in LA last week, "It's a romantic comedy. It's a sweetened version of reality." Exactly. And like any good romantic comedy, everything works out deliciously at the end. Sort of like a light, sweet, beautifully whipped French meringue.

Julie and Julia
opens August 7, 2009. Stay tuned though -- I'll be offering 20 complimentary tickets to an early August 6th screening of the film in LA!