Julie & Julia (2009)

When a movie cast boasts of the classy Meryl Streep, and at the heart of the movie is cooking, no third reason is required to watch a movie for me. And I wasn’t at all disappointed. Quite the contrary.

Julia Child, played in the movie by Meryl Streep — an awesome performance —  for those who don’t know much about her, was an iconic figure in the gastronomical world;  author and television host of a show that’s supposed to have really ‘brought’ french cooking to Americans.

The story beings with Julie Powell (played by Amy Adams), who moves to Queens with her husband, and is generally unhappy about her life — a failed writer with half-finished novel, and a job in a call-center for 9/11 victim. One thing that is saving grace for her is her love for cooking, and in-turn for Julia.

The plot moves between Julie’s pledge to cook each and every recipe in Julia Chilid’s book on french cooking (524 recipes in 365 days) — she would blog about her progress on the challenge — and Julia Child’s life in France a few decades back.

There are a few parallels between the lives of the two women — both searching for, and finding, a new purpose in life in their cooking exploits. While for Julie it’s the blog, for Julia, wife of American diplomat — Paul Child — posted in Paris, it’s her one calling. But almost every memorable scene in the movie seems to be when timeline shifts to Julia’s Paris days. Part of the credit goes to Streep who seems to have found a character that’s worth her talents after a while. But that’s not all. The chemistry between her and Stanely Tucci (who plays Paul Child) brings to screen an almost reassuring portrayal of a married couple’s love, made more special by the fact that neither of them is portrayed as glamorous or beautiful. That love, and Julia’s love for cooking (“What is it that you really like to do?”, asks Paul, as she’s searching for something to do with her life, and she says “Eat”. They both laugh, but then both know she’s damn serious) gives the movie its emotional foundation.

On the flip side, Julie’s story is much weaker — like her character, who almost seems to be living off Julia’s charms, and recipes. And every time the film lingers there a while, one has this sudden craving for more of Julia’s story, and Julia’s (or Streep’s) presence. I just wonder if they couldn’t have done a biopic based totally on Child’s biography instead?

By no means a great film, it’s still endearing, in its own way, and made special by, and I cannot stress this enough, Meryl Streep’s fascinating portrayal of Julia Child — who is darling of a lost-generation of America; in fact Streep pretty much ends up explaining why. I’d give 7/10 to the whole experience, 9/10 to Meryl Streep (because, she just makes us feel it’s the best she can give, and then goes out and does better, just making us feel stupid for giving 10/10).

If you’re sucker for ‘love of cooking’, like me, then go watch it already.


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