Thursday, August 20, 2009
Julie and Julia is a touching and entertaining movie about parallel lives. One life inspired the other. Amy Adams is charming as the soon-to-be 30 year old Julie. She’s in a happy marriage, stuck in a run down apartment in Long Island City (it is 900 sq ft-as her husband reminds her why they are living there. If you’re a New Yorker, you know that is a detail not to be overlooked.). She’s in a dead end job listening to and trying to improve the lives of those affected by 9/11 and lamenting that she hasn’t used her writing skills to become a published writer. In a duel story, Julia Child, played so well by Meryl Streep (her facial expressions and nuances make the movie), is madly in love with her husband, has moved to Paris, which she fully embraces and is also searching for something to give her fulfillment in her life. They both come to the conclusion that food makes them happy. Julia loves eating it and Julie loves cooking it.
Meryl plays Julia as a bon vivant with just the right touch of sarcasm. She loves life, people and experiences, but is no saint. The scenes of Julia as the only female student at the Le Cordon Bleu will put a smile on your face. Julia became a trailblazer by following her heart and not letting stereotypes stand in her way. She was a very formidable woman at 6’ 2”, so I’m sure a lot couldn’t stand in her way and she probably dealt with her share of prejudices, not only as a woman (the woman who ran Le Cordon Bleu hated her), but as a very tall woman. Julie not only becomes a devout fan of Julia, she converses with her while she’s cooking and dresses as her for her 30th birthday party. Pearls are mandatory.
It’s not easy to depict parallel stories that never intersect on screen, but the pacing and layout of this movie are flawless. Never once did I look at my watch. (Before the movie started I did make note of the 30 minutes of previews and commercials we had to sit thorough before the movie began). It’s a great movie about finding something you like and letting it kill you (to paraphrase Kinky Friedman). There’s a mix of emotions played out over the course of the film: heartbreak, frustration, getting over yourself and sheer joy. It’s life as we know it. Julie Powell blogs about the following incident, so I’m not giving anything away, but there is a dose of reality that grounds the film. As much as I hated the part when Julie got the call that Julie Child is disinterested in her blog, it threw the movie deeper into the real world. Julia was never a shrinking violet, so why would she not be honest in her opinion of Julie’s blog? Of course you want Julie to meet Julia and have a great relationship with her, but how many of you have met your hero and been disappointed? How many of you have been pleasantly surprised? Sometimes the myth is greater than the reality. Whether Meryl’s portrayal of Julia is more myth than reality, it doesn’t matter. She’s thoroughly endearing.