Last night a friend of mine and I had the opportunity to see Julie & Julia, the movie by Nora Ephron that is based on My Life in France by Julia Child with Alex Prud’Homme and Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously by Julie Powell (my reviews of the books are here). Ephron does a good job of using both books to mirror the changes in both of the women’s lives, moving effortlessly between the two time periods.
Overall, I’d have to say it was a cute movie with laughs and giggles scattered throughout. Meryl Streep does a fantastic and mesmerizing job as Julia Child (and I’m not even a fan of hers), and Stanley Tucci is a great Paul. Amy Adams and Chris Messina, as Julie Powell and Eric respectively, are good as well, but I’d have to say that Streep and Tucci steal the whole movie.
And plot-wise, I’d have to say that Julia Child’s half of the movie steals the show as well. (That probably boosted the acting side as well; it gives you more creativity when you have great material to work with.) While it was good to see how both lives are similar and different, Julia Child’s experiences are so much more interesting. Half-way through the movie, the Julie Powell parts began to drag on a bit and I kept wondering when they’d get back to the Julia Child parts. I honestly would have preferred to see a bio-pic about Child. The movie only touches on parts like McCarthyism, and doesn’t even show any parts about their life in Marseilles or about the start of her TV career.
I am grateful that Ephron manages to make Julie Powell more charming and sympathetic than she comes across in her book, because it made the movie more enjoyable. (And that there is no swearing, although there is still a lot of weeping and drinking.) I was rather amused, however, to discover that my friend found that character to be annoying. And my friend hasn’t even read Powell’s book!
I suspect that food lovers will really enjoy the Julia Child parts of the movie, and will tolerate the rest. Non-foodies may be better off waiting for the movie to go into the cheap theatres or appear on DVD. Whichever you are, I definitely recommend seeing the movie if only to admire Streep’s performance and marvel at Julia Child’s accompishments.