The new film, Julie & Julia is based on two true memoirs, authored by famous chef, Julia Child, and aspiring writer and blogger, Julie Powell. The movie drifts back and forth between the lives of Ms. Child (Meryl Streep) and husband Paul (Stanley Tucci) and Ms. Powell (Amy Adams) and husband, Eric (Chris Messina). All four of these main characters are likable, smart and sympathetic, but the lives of the Childs overshadow those of their counterparts throughout the movie.
Julia and Paul are living in post-war Paris in the ‘40’s. The city is beautiful, the parties are fabulous, the clothing is lovely, and the food is to die for. Paul works for the State Department, and the couple has just been posted in one of the most wonderful cities in the world. Julia is not used to being a housewife, and needs to find something to do with herself, so after trying several different outlets, settles on cooking lessons at Le Cordon Bleu. She loves the city, and she loves to eat (particularly French food) and figures this will be a perfect fit.
Julie and Eric reside in Queens, New York. Julie hates it. She hates the apartment, she’s dissatisfied with her job, and she feels inadequate among her successful friends. The only thing we are sure she’s really happy with is her husband. She longs to be a writer, but has never been able to finish her attempt at a novel, or anything else for that matter. In a desperate attempt to be good at something, Julie decides to cook every recipe in Ms. Child’s cookbook (524 in all) in 365 days, and to blog about it. Amy Adams is cute and lovable in the role, but it’s not a very meaty vehicle for her charms.
This is not an action movie, and the characters and their relationships are certainly the main ingredient. Julia and Paul share a love that is truly a joy to watch. They care deeply about one another, and this is shown in small moments rather than sexy love scenes. He holds her when she finds out her sister is having a baby when she is unable to get pregnant. He rejoices with her when she finds a publisher for her first cookbook. Even when he encounters difficulties in his career and is under investigation during the McCarthy era, Paul and Julia’s deep regard for one another never falters.
Julie and Eric are a nice couple. They love one another, sure. He’s supportive of her blog and her cooking scheme (mostly). But, after a while, you kind of don’t care. Yes, you want them to be happy, because they’re both cute, and they seem nice, and you like happy endings. But you want to be back in Paris with Julia and Paul. They’re the kind of interesting, caring, fun people we’d all like to know. Other than her voice (which is kind of irritating by the end of the show), they have few faults. They’re just great people. There are a couple of terrific scenes where Julia’s sister comes to visit them in Paris, that are absolutely wonderful. They are all people who just enjoy life to the fullest.
Meryl Streep is her usual talented self, taking on the role completely. She becomes Julia Child. She has the voice, and somehow she has the largeness of stature, the vulnerability and the tremendous energy and enthusiasm of the late Ms. Child. For me, the movie lives on the performances of Ms. Streep and Mr. Tucci. While Ms. Adams does a fine job in the role of Julie Powell, she has little character to work with in this instance. The blog thing and doing the recipes is a nice little twist, but the real story is the life of Julia Child before fame and fortune, and that is the story that will enfold you with its charm.