Entertainment » Movies

Julie & Julia

by David Foucher
EDGE Publisher
Friday Aug 7, 2009
Meryl Streep plays Julia Child - to perfection.
Meryl Streep plays Julia Child - to perfection.  

It's hardly the type of premise upon which a summer blockbuster is normally constructed, but "Julie and Julia" actually subscribes to a long history of late-season counter-programming. And it's a smart move; with "it" girl Amy Adams and Hollywood heavy-hitter Meryl Streep at the helm of Nora Ephron's latest, audiences are sure to turn out to see the flick, despite the fact that its subject matter is among the most mundane: cooking. Nevertheless, "Julie and Julia" has a big heart and a thematic purpose right in line with Ephron's body of work, and even for those who don't appreciate "chick flicks," Meryl Streep's performance is alone worth the ticket price.

The film is two distinct stories told in two different decades, with little more than a thematic link between them. Streep plays cooking maverick, legendary author and television personality Julia Child, who in the late 40s and early 50s finds herself aimlessly living in Paris in support of her government-employed husband (Stanley Tucci). "I need something to doooooo," she complains, and finds it in the Le Cordon Bleu kitchens, learning how to master French cooking. Half a century later in 2002, Julie Powell (Adams) is equally aimless, distraught by her job processing claims for the walking wounded from 9/11 and driving her husband (Chris Messina) to distraction. She finds in cooking her obsession, and resolves to cook her way through Julia's book in one year while blogging about the adventure.

Again, this is not the stuff that will entertain boys from 18 to 30 (see just about every other major motion picture this summer). But watching Meryl Streep hunch her shoulders, impersonate a woman eight inches shorter than her, and warble through Child's legendary catchphrases is simply further evidence of Streep's talent. For she doesn't just imitate Child; she brings her back to life. And it was a masterstroke to reunite her and Tucci, who together bring an effortless blend of comedy and emotion to the screen. Adams is charming (but growing less so by the minute - I long to see her take on a role against type), but as expected, is entirely overshadowed by Streep's work; I found myself getting far more excited when the story flipped back to Child's progression from busybody to cook to author.

Nonetheless, Ephron is an exceptional writer - even if her direction largely falls flat. She imbues the story with effective parallels between the lives of the two women, and in keeping them worlds apart (the two never meet on-screen) manages to find in their kindred spirits a rarity: a film about girls that isn't about boys. And despite the fact that the mixture isn't perfect, it's nonetheless a savory dish.

Julie & Julia


Runtime :: 124 mins
Release Date :: Aug 07, 2009
Language :: English
Country :: United States

David Foucher is the CEO of the EDGE Media Network and Pride Labs LLC, is a member of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalist Association, and is accredited with the Online Society of Film Critics. David lives with his daughter in Dedham MA.

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