Movie Review: Julie & Julia
Director, Nora Ephrom
Review by Nike Chillemi
With Julie & Julia coming out on pay-per-view and DVD, I thought I’d put my two cents in on this movie. If you want a good tickle, followed by a hearty belly laugh—then order it or get it at the video store—and see Meryl Streep as Julia Child. What a delight she is.
My husband and I saw it in a theatre some months ago. The Julia scenes simply sizzle. Well, what did I expect? Meryl Streep is a superb actress, and she’s portraying Julia Child who was larger than life.
I loved seeing Julia portrayed exuding life, positivity, and determination against all odds, and the odds were against her. I wanted to say aloud, “Yeah, why not take life on—just like Julia?”
First of all, I love the era. It’s 1949 and people had a lot of style then. Julia’s in Paris with her diplomat husband and doesn’t want to just be a wifely appendage who hangs on his arm. She wants to do something. It’s obvious he dotes on her. So, he looks at her with adoring eyes and asks what it is she really likes to do. She says, “Eat.”
Jump to 2002 and Julie Powell (Amy Adams) and her writer husband are happily married and living in a small walkup apartment over a Queens, NY, pizzeria. Julie is unhappy working in a government job taking abusive phone calls in a cubicle somewhere in Manhattan. Besides, her girlfriends have all become movers and shakers achieving business triumphs. So, she starts an online blog and gains a following as she cooks her way through the Julia Child cookbook.
The Julie parts are a little sniveling compared to the Julia scenes. Julie is a tad too self-absorbed. But then Julia was part of a strong and plucky generation whereas Julie (and many of us) are part of a self-centered whiny generation.
It’s PG-13, but I saw a dad come out with his preteen daughter and was delighted to hear this young girl telling her father how interested she was in the process Julia went through to publish her first cookbook. This child waved her arms and talked about Julia Child’s stick-to-itiveness and how she kept her chin up when facing rejection after rejection. How Julia kept going when the chips were all down and looked like they’d never come up impressed this girl.
Julie and Julia both had supportive husbands. Although Julie often comes off less than stellar, both women admire and openly praise their husbands. On the family values front, the movie points out that when Julia met her husband at age thirty, she was a virgin. The couples are cuddly, but anything beyond that happens off-screen. In the Paris scenes, there is some crude language, some with sexual references—so be advised. As was part of 40s-50s life, smoking is ever-present, and in the culinary and diplomatic world of that era (as I suspect it is now), so is drinking.
All I can say is that when I left the movie with my husband, I wanted to cook meals especially for him, I wanted to eat, I wanted to laugh. He can attest to the fact that I did all three.