August 6, 2009 by  

Julie & Julia


Julie & Julia

Two-time Oscar winner Meryl Streep stars as American chef Julia Child in "Julie & Julia."

Starring: Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Stanley Tucci
Directed by: Nora Ephron (“Sleepless in Seattle”)
Written by: Nora Ephron (“Sleepless in Seattle”)

Whether you’re a glutton or a light eater, it would be difficult not to enjoy what director Nora Ephron (“Sleepless in Seattle”) serves up in her double-biopic “Julia & Julia.” The film, which stars two-time Academy Award winner Meryl Streep and two-time Academy Award nominee Amy Adams, is as tasty as a French Quiche Lorraine. Who says real men don’t eat it?

In half of the film, Streep plays American chef and French cuisine mastermind Julia Child before she actually knew how to even make an omelet. We watch Streep embody Child while living in Paris in the 40s and 50s and trying to find something to do to keep her busy while her husband (Stanley Tucci) attends to his work as a foreign diplomat.

With a love of French food, Child decides to take French cooking lessons at the culinary arts school Le Cordon Bleu after hobbies like hat making and playing bridge don’t fulfill her needs. There she finds the joy of cooking and proves to her all-male class that a woman has just as much right to run a professional kitchen as a man.
 
Working in harmony with Child’s biography is the story of Julie Powell (Adams), an insurance claims representative who wants more out of life than her monotonous nine to five job. A fan of Child, she, too, has a fascination for food, but doesn’t realize what a fantastic cook she actually is until she challenges herself to a “deranged assignment.”

The goal: to cook all 524 recipes in Child’s first book, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” which we also see Child undertake in her portion of the film. Not only will Julie cook boeuf bourguignon and bouillabaisse, she will also update an online blog about her experiences while performing such a demanding feat.

While Julia’s story is much more enjoyable to the cinematic pallet than her counterpart Julie’s sometimes irritable journey, the parallels between these women’s lives are sincere offerings from Ephron. Streep once again proves why she is arguably the best actress of her generation, while Adams’ starry-eyed disposition makes her a perfect choice for Julie. If you can get past her meltdowns and focus on the melting butter in a saucepan instead, “Julie & Julia” is as delicate and satisfying as the caramelized sugar covering of a crème brulee.

Grade: B+

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