Julie and Julia
Is it ever too late to follow your bliss? In Julie and Julia, director Nora Ephron seems to be shouting directly into the ears of the audience, “Not on your life!”
The film, which is truly Ephron’s masterpiece, is based on two books: writer Julie Powell’s tome of the same name and Julia Child’s memoir My Life in France. Like Child (played by Meryl Streep) in post-war Europe, Powell (Amy Adams) in modern day New York City is on a quest to do what she loves. Both women are supported in their endeavors by loving partners; Child signs up for cooking classes at Cordon Bleu and goes on to phenomenal—if hard-won—success. Powell, who finds cooking an outlet to escape from her difficult day job, decides to blog about cooking her way through Child’s recipes, which eventually lands her a lucrative book contract—and, of course, a movie deal.
Streep, who learned the art of gourmet cooking for this role, delivers an amazing performance, positively channeling Child’s joie de vivre. Far beyond her cooking, we are given a glimpse of the intimacy between Child and her husband Paul (played by Stanley Tucci) that’s so realistic it is almost embarrassing. By all accounts, Child and her husband were said to have had an extremely close relationship.
Back in New York, Julie enjoys so much support from her own husband, Eric (Chris Messina, who appears gratuitously shirtless in a number of scenes), that you actually feel sorry for his having to put up with her innumerable meltdowns. At one point, fed up, he yells, “I’m not a saint!” before storming out. Predictably, he comes back to see Julie through her adventure, but you wonder why she is ditching sex with him for beef gelatin.
What I especially loved about this film was the random, unexpectedly hilarious dialogue that popped up every now and then. In one kitchen scene, Julia, who we have seen for more than an hour in her prim, silk two-piece suits, bursts out that the cannelloni “are as hot as a stiff cock!” (Later I had to ask my partner if I had really heard this or if I had been daydreaming. He confirmed I'd actually heard it.)
Being a vegetarian, some of the scenes totally grossed me out. I have never and will never understand anyone’s desire to kill, bone, and eat a duck, or any other animal for that matter. While it was grimly funny that Talking Heads’ "Psycho Killer" was the background music when Julie is feeling guilty about cooking lobsters, I couldn’t help feeling bad for the little guys—even if they were props.
That said, you clearly don’t have to be a foodie to appreciate this movie. From a feminist point of view, seeing two independent women defy convention, told they’d fail, and go on to succeed beyond their wildest expectations was quite satisfying.