As a British viewer (possibly a rather ignorant one!) who did not know the Julia and Julie story, I found this movie absorbing and entertaining and one which did not outstay its welcome, lengthy as it was. The story is pretty well told in other reviews. Period detail for the Julia Child side of it is well caught, and Meryl Streep's performance is an absolute tour de force - she commands the screen whenever she appears. Another reviewer found Amy Adams bland as Julie, and I absolutely disagree with that. I thought she was charming and most sympathetic, as she needs to be if the film is to work at all, because it is her story that brings in the Julia Child story, and indeed this is the film of her book. All the performances are assured and convincing, and the screenplay, by Nora Ephron, is often witty and amusing (there is a very good joke even in the end credits) - never laugh-out-loud humour, but more subtle and more satisfying than that. What's there not to like? Another reviewer isn't turned on by fine cooking - well, neither am I, but there's a lot more to this film than that. Indeed it is not really a film about cooking but about two women in different times who set out to do something and become absorbed in it to the point of takeover, and that brings its own problems and triumphs. In the end, this is a feel-good film, a good one, and I like feeling good - so I liked the film.
Julie is cutesy; Julia is grand. That just about sums up Nora Ephron's movie, Julie & Julia.
Ephron has taken Julie Powell's tale of deciding to make every single one of the recipes in Mastering the Art of French Cooking and doing it in one year and Julia Child's memoir of her life in France with her husband, Paul, as she learned to cook, plus other elements of her life. The result is a movie, half of which is a memorable delight and half of which is not bad, depending on your tolerance for New York's creative yuppie set
As Julie (Amy Adams), cute and smart and wanting to be writer, works her way through the recipes, we get to meet her superficial and more successful Manhattan friends, her loving husband who eventually gets tired of the project and his wife's self obsession with it, and the gradual recognition of others, including some in the writing game, of what she's doing. She keeps a blog and seems as devoted to it as she is to Julia Child. Back and forth we go in flashback as we also see Julia Child (Meryl Streep) trying to find something to do in Paris where her husband has been assigned after the war, deciding to master great French cooking, and discovering that great cooking and eating well prepared food is what she enjoys the best. To the surprise of some, but not herself or her husband, she becomes a wonderful example of try, try again, hard work, indomitable perseverance and good humor...all voiced with her inimitable fluting exuberance. Within minutes we've forgotten Streep and are completely enchanted by one of our favorite people.
The drawback to the movie is that Julie Powell's quest seems increasingly self-centered and insignificant compared to Julia Child's quest. With Julie we get all the requisite clichés of New York's younger set, including stylishly improvised dinner parties, a 900 square foot apartment (above a pizza restaurant), romantic tussles on the sofa, the anguish of misunderstandings and disappointments.
Ah, but with Julia we are on a magnificent quest on a completely different level...to conquer doubt; to do things right even if it means dropping spoons on a floor; to make and keep friends; to take cooking seriously, but not oneself; and with Paul to have a happy, mutually supportive and very lusty partnership. It would take a shrewd and skilled actor to stand up to Streep's extraordinary ability to channel Julia Child's personality, manners and voice. Stanley Tucci, by underplaying, makes Paul Child into what he was in life, the rock upon which Julia Child depended.
Not much in the movie, to Nora Ephron's credit, is played for easy laughs. The movie may generate endless platefuls of warm smiles and nods, but that's because Ephron and Streep have managed the remarkable feat of giving us the Julia Child we learned to love and learn from through her television programs. Julia Child on the screen is the woman we saw and remember with such affection. If only Ephron, with Streep's signature on the contract, had just dumped the Julie part and given us all Julia.
Meryl Streep play Julia Childs a celebrity chef from the 1960s who apparently introduced french cooking to the USA. I'd not heard of her, but the film seems to assume that we will know who she is. Childs was eccentric and Streep certainly gives a performance - one that wowed the critics, but it felt a little overcooked to me a points.
The second story here is a blogger (Julie) working her way through Julia's recipe book, there is less substance here, but is does provide a nice counterpoint to the main story, and some evidence for the impact Julia made.
I enjoyed this for the first hour or so, Julia in Paris learning about French cooking was entertaining. But it gets bogged down in her search for a book deal and stretches the thin material it has too far. It stops when both women earn a book deal. But I'd have liked to have known more about what happened after that and less about before.
Would have been better had it been about 30 minutes shorter.
on 16 February 2010
I didn't have any major desire to see it but when I did it was so well done and very cute, Amy Adams was amazing. I think she's my favourite actress since this film. Though it's not exactly an action-packed story line the characters are so interesting and honest it's fabulous. Didn't know what to expect but it had me hooked 5 minutes in.
on 3 January 2013
On the one hand you have Meryl Streep as Julia Child in 1950s Paris with her husband and French associates, dreaming up a cookbook of French cuisine for the American market. On the flip side you have the parallel story, 40ish years later in 2001, with Julie, a downbeat thirty year old in New York, attempting to revive her humdrum life by blogging about giving herself one year to make all of Julia Child's recipes.
Why, oh WHY did they slaughter a potentially epic film (the Streep half) with a dull, boring and pointless twin piggybacking for the ride? The portrayal of Julia Child is nothing short of magnificent - Streep IS the lovable, eccentric and glowing lady dotty about fine cooking and about France. This half of the film has a golden haze, not dissimiler to "Amelie" or "Midnight in Paris", and the character is so well drawn, the setting so brilliantly portrayed, that you feel the warmth of Streep's Julia and of the enchanting setting of 1950s Paris pleasantly unfold before your eyes.
Then CUT!! This magnificent would-be biopic is shot dead by the interspersions of the drab, dull, POINTLESS story of Julie droning on about her blogging ambition in a grey and cardboard modern-day New York. After the sumptuous feast of Streep and Paris, Julie and her world are one dimensional and boring, and her side of the story truly feels like a completely different movie, chopped up and inserted roughly into Meryl's. Just when you are pleasantly entertained by Streep's Oscar-worthy performance and the tantalising storyline of a woman on a fine-food misson, the film automatically changes channel to the Julie droning. I suspect Ephron (the director) was attempting to be innovative and pull it off like in "The Hours", but it *really* doesn't work. It feels like someone messing with the transmission. It's no fault of Amy Adams (Julie) - but the story doesn't even begin to hold a candle with the other. I still can't figure out what Ephron was thinking when she mashed them together - why not just do a biopic of Julia Child? It would have allowed the story to breathe, to develop, and for the audience to embark on a truly magical and touching journey with a character we feel so much for. Instead, the parasitic film that comes along for the ride attempts to suffocate the other half - it doesn't succeed, but it does make the Streep half suffer, as we get less of Julia because of Julie.
I give this three stars, a nominal five stars though purely because of the Julia Child half - every single character, shot, scene is sublime in that half. It's funny, it's delicious, it's touching. The Julie half I give Zero - the only place for that half is the trash can.
on 22 February 2010
If one was to look at cinema listings of the last 5 years or so especially, then you would be hard pushed to find one film of this kind amongst the flood of blockbusters and action heroes.
'Julie and Julia' stands proud as a delicious treat to be savoured and enjoyed: this is summed up in Meryl Streep's phenomenal performance as Julia Child, a character unfortunately not as well-known here as the USA.
I am subtracting one star purely as I felt my attention wane during the Amy Adams segments of the movie, if only because Streep's Child stays with you long after you finish watching the film.
on 22 March 2010
I watched this film on DVD recently - I wish I had seen it at the cinema. Even so, I really enjoyed it. It goes without saying that Meryl Streep is fantastic (although I found the voice of Julia a little irritating) but I also really liked the actress that played Julie; I have not seen her in anything else but I am sure we will see more of her in the future.
Given that I like anything French, I enjoyed the Paris atmosphere in the film and it is interesting to see the anthithesis of life in modern New York. It was an uplifting film, although a bit sad at the end (the scene where Julie is in the "museum" version of Julia's kitchen - I will not say any more so as not to spoil the film for you if you haven't seen it yet). I also liked the actors playing their two husbands and it was lovely to see a portrayal of relationships of couples that are not just based on lust, greed, selfishness (as you often do these days in TV series and films) but on mutual respect for the other person and supporting them through what they have to do. Not sure if they were like that in real life but who cares! It is these "quiet" relationships (that do not make the columns of the gossip magazines) that are of real value to someone's life.
I am quite fond of cooking myself and making everything from scratch so needless to say I bought the paperback version of Julia Child's book after seeing the film. I've already tried one of the fish recipes (with the onion and mushrooms on top) and it was tasty and simple to follow through (although, as one of the reviewers on amazon rightly said about the book, the font is a little small in the first book).
If you want to have a great evening in, this film is definitely a treat.
on 17 September 2010
I had been wanting to watch this film for some time and when the price dropped , i clicked and got it instantly !
Showing this much antisipation for this film before it arrived , i watched trialers and interviews , giving a insight into the project , wanting it to come more !
It arrived and what can i say ? I didnt leave the chair i was sitting on for a moment . It was funny , in the way in the director places her jokes , in a delicate and giggly kind of way. It was sweet , as the story can be related to many , man or woman , wanting to find themselves or even to find life once more.
The acting was what you would expect for the two leading ladies , who work together before in the movie " Doubt ". The husbands play such a key role in the womans lives and male leads justify this in this film.
All and all , it cant be faulted , in my eyes , for me it is the perfect film . Warm tone and great message . Dont fear life ( or food ! ) , enjoy it ( especially the food ! )
on 4 December 2010
The 3 stars are for Streep and Tucci.
I wish it was possible to purchase the DVD with the Amy Adams and her `husband' and their friends edited out. Acting wise they were just not in the same league as Streep and Tucci and for me, this spoiled the movie. As characters the young people were just plain dull and uninteresting. The scenes from Paris of the 1950's were beautifully shot and dressed. The idea of interweaving the two eras was good; just don't think it blended very well.
What is it about a lot of young American actors; they just seem to lack something - just so samey and lacking depth. I don't think it's the script, they just lack gravitas.
on 10 November 2010
Hmmm, hyped films never live up to expectations do they? I read about this movie (based on the bestselling book, which I'd never heard of...) and seen the trailer - which highlights the few comical moments in the movie - so thought it was time I gave it a whirl.
Disappointed? No. Enjoyed? It was okay. A couple of scenes made me chuckle but on the whole, I wish the movie had been based solely on Julia Childs rather than the unlikeable Julie Powell. Childs is clearly a far more interesting character, who lead a challenging, sometime sad, but ultimately spirited life. Whereas Powell's desperate attempts to inject some focus in to her life (at the expense of friendships, her marriage and any awareness of life around her) was frustrating at best. I cannot imagine reading anything more dreary that her blog, about attempting to cook recipes decades old while she allows the rest of her life to fall apart.
It was interesting that the film highlighted how Childs showed no enthusiasm or encouragement for Powell's attempts to emulate her, no doubt because Childs had maintained a better work/ life/ love balance and despite an enthusiasm and dogged determination to get her cookbook published did not let the rest of her life slide. Is Powell an inspiration? No. Is Childs? Yes. And that's why the films slant should have been different.
The cooking element of the film is fun; the scenes in Paris wonderfully created (capturing the era) and Meryl Streep, as always, a joy to watch. I'd probably recommend the film, but certainly clarify it's a wet-Sunday afternoon watch rather than a great movie night in.