Julie & Julia: DVD, Blu-ray Movie Review (2009)

12/11/2009 Posted by Admin

DVD, Blu-ray Movie Review“Julie & Julia”

Written and directed by Nora Ephron, 123 minutes, rated PG-13.

By Christopher Smith


Nora Ephron’s winning movie is about the life of Julia Child (Meryl Streep, terrific in the role) and the young woman, Julie Powell (Amy Adams), who came to blog about her experiences of cooking every one of the 500-plus recipes from Child’s iconic cookbook “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” in just one year.

What ensues is light, but not slight. The performances sell this movie straight down the line; they are so intoxicating, it’s easy to gloss over the script’s occasional lapses into cliché. This is a film that defines escapism, and it's made for those who love food, love Paris and who love Julia Child.  A good deal of it is well made.

Wisely, Ephron dips back into Child’s life long before she became a celebrity chef trained by Paris’ infamous cooking school, Le Cordon Bleu. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, she was living in Paris with her diplomat husband, Paul (Stanley Tucci, excellent), and trying to figure out what she wanted to do with her own life. Should she make hats? Not for her. Since she apparently can’t eat enough French food (“Look at me! I’m growing right in front of you!”), perhaps she could learn how to cook and then teach the craft?

Ephron intercuts this story with that of Julie’s. Here, we’re in New York City, it’s 2002, the backdrop of 9-11 is everywhere, and Powell, on the cusp of turning 30, is unsure what to do with her own life. A failed novelist, she now answers phones for those affected by the events of 9-11. And then, with the help of her husband (Chris Messina), she starts her blog, breaks out the pots and pans, and gradually reveals herself to herself.

And that’s the movie’s point. Over the course of the film, these two find themselves, with Ephron maneuvering seamlessly through there lives. In spite of playing a mostly unlikable, self-centered character, Adams acquits herself as well as she can here--she remains among the brightest young talents working in Hollywood. Still, given her character’s grouchy sullenness, her story sags in comparison to the one Streep enjoys.

That likely won’t surprise anyone, particularly given Streep’s seemingly bottomless talent and the fact that she doesn’t give Child totally over to caricature. The script allows her to stand tall--literally and figuratively--amid the funny moments audiences will expect, and also the trying moments they may not have predicted. After all, success wasn’t handed to Julia Child--she had to work hard for it. In “Julie & Julia,” you feel her struggle and her disappointments, which makes the ending--and how Ephron pauses so perfectly on the final scene--such a satisfying moment to behold.

Grade: B+

View the trailer for "Julie & Julia" here:


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1 comments:

  1. pixie13 said...

    I guess this is a case of the movie being better than the book.