Lissa does Julie and Julia

“Bon appetit!”

The Scoop:
2009, PG-13, directed by Nora Ephron and starring Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, and Stanley Tucci

Tagline:
Passion.  Ambition.  Butter.  Do you have what it takes?

Summary Capsule:
Two women in two different decades, united by a love of cooking and a desire to do something with their lives.


Lissa’s Rating:
“At a time when the public is rightly concerned about the impact of sex and violence on TV, this administration is gonna protect the MUPPETS! We’re gonna protect Wall Street Week, we’re gonna protect Live from Lincoln Center, and by God, we are going to protect Julia Child!”  Go, Toby Zeigler!!!

Lissa’s Review:
Every once in a while, a movie comes along that sums up something about your life so aptly that it’s hard to look at it objectively.  One that resonates with you, and makes you say I know exactly how that feels or that is exactly what I want or I’ve been there.  I’m sure you can see exactly where this is going, especially since this is a movie about two women who write about cooking, one in a blog.  And yeah, you’re right.

Julie Powell, a real person, got the idea to cook her way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking and blog about her experience.  Three hundred sixty five days, five hundred and twenty four recipes.  It’s an interesting idea, and frankly, I’m a little jealous that she thought of it first, even though I don’t think I could pull it off myself.  (There are ingredients I will not touch with a ten foot pole, such as eggplant, and I don’t care for seafood.  Also?  French cooking with toddlers?  They’d eat some of what’s in there, but not enough.)   As the movie chronicles her progress with this goal, it also tells the story of Julia Child learning to cook and going on to co-author the book.  It’s a neat double story, and it works extremely well.

Julie and Julia has gotten the most attention for Meryl Streep’s portrayal of Julia Child.  And I can see why – Streep is dead on, although I’ve never watched much Julia.  But what got me wasn’t that Meryl Streep got Julia Child’s mannerisms or voice down right; it was that she made Julia Child a real person.  I was drawn in by her performance, and I could see exactly what about Julia charmed so many people who knew her in real life.  And yet it wasn’t overdone.  There was one scene, where Julia learns her sister is pregnant and breaks down in tears… it just tore at me.  So understated, and so powerful, and so much proof that less can be more.

That said, Meryl Streep is far from the only one turning in an amazing performance here.  Amy Adam’s Julie is quite charming, despite her narcissism, but the other two big standouts to me were Stanley Tucci as Julia’s husband Paul (just as impossible to dislike as Julia herself), and Linda Emond as Julia’s friend and co-author Simone Beck.  (I even enjoyed Chris Messina, although his character is a little bland in spots.)  Paul was just as loveable as Julia herself, and Simone had a delightful repressed snark to her that I couldn’t resist.

Like I said, for me, this was a personal movie.  There was the element that both Julie and Julia felt of wanting to do something more with their lives.  I mean, I love my job of stay-at-home mom, but I do often crave the mental stimulation and the feeling that I’m doing something with my life.  And writing… well, it’s one of those things you can do while you do other things- like work to pay the bills or raise your children.  And I loved seeing some fantastic, supportive marriages – while Eric and Julie had a good relationship, Paul and Julia’s marriage was just depicted as incredibly supportive and nice.  This was one of those movies that yeah, while I identified with it, it didn’t make me depressed, but instead quite happy.

My one disappointment was that there was just not enough food porn.  No, not like that, pervs.  I find it funny that we attach “porn” as a descriptor to anything that is lavishly and generously portrayed on the screen, but at the same time, it fits.  I wanted more shots of amazing food.  Which is funny, because I’m not overly crazy about French cooking.  I’m fine with the butter, but the eggs often aren’t my thing.  And given how often everyone in the movie was popping Tums… seriously.  There was some major product placement going on there.  But there were quite a few shots, and I did enjoy them.  The movie also made me appreciate my kitchen all over again, and let me tell you, I do not miss my rathole kitchen in my rathole apartment in grad school one bit!

This movie was really pure comfort food for me, in the best way.  Good acting, good marriages, good writing, identifiable themes and food… what more could I ask for?  It won’t change the world, but it sure makes for a nice evening.   I know it’s cliched, but… bon appetit!

Ways to have fun on a Saturday night!

Didja notice?

  • Lobster killer!  Something I have yet to do.
  • The Julie/Julia Project. Just be warned- it is very addictive reading.
    -The last shot of Julia Child was actually Julia Child, not Meryl Streep.  I liked that.
  • I knew I was going to like Julie’s husband Eric when he quoted The Hitchhiker’s Guide.
  • When cooking beef bourguignon, Julie uses a Bordeaux wine instead of a Burgundy, which is what the recipe calls for.  Okay, so I found this one when I looked it up, but there really is a lot of difference between the two wines, and the taste of your wine DOES matter in cooking, especially in recipes that call for a good deal of wine.  It’s the alcohol that boils off- not the flavor- and using the wrong wine can actually make a difference.  (Also?  Cooking wine is disgusting and should never be used for more than a tablespoon or two.  If you don’t like having a whole bottle around just to take a cup or less out of, get the small splits instead.)
  • Julia’s former life as a spy!
  • They really had to struggle to make Meryl Streep as tall as Julia Child.

Groovy Quotes:

Paul Child: What is it you REALLY like to do?
Julia Child: Eat!

Julia Child: If no one’s in the kitchen, who’s to see?

Paul Child: [to Julia] You are the butter to my bread, you are the breath to my life.


If You Liked this Movie, Try:

  • Ratatouille
  • Sideways
  • Wonder Boys
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