julie and julia - the movie

Julie And Julia – An Unusual Love Story

julie and julia - the movieLove stories portrayed in literature and film are usually but not always centered around attractive people. In the highly anticipated comedy, Julie And Julia, written and directed by Nora Ephron , the subject of this love story is the marriage of the late Julia Child, the apostle of cooking who died in 2004, two days before her 92nd birthday. In her autobiography, My Life In France, published posthumously in 2006, she chronicles her time in Paris during the post war period before becoming the icon of French cooking popularized in her landmark book, Mastering The Art of French Cooking (1961) which helped make French cuisine accessible to the American public. She first appeared on television as The French Chef in 1963, long before the food network or cable TV was ever conceived. Sometimes, while trying to flip something in the pan, she missed the mark and dropped it on the counter, or floor, smiling as she mumbled, “whose to see?” then picked it up and put it back in the pan.

Child, at 6’2″, a large woman with a shrill husky voice and a somewhat matronly bovine appearance, is flawlessly channeled by Meryl Streep in an astonishing performance revealing a new side to the cooking icon who had a passion for life coupled with a surprisingly sexually charged relationship with her husband Paul Child, who declares his love at a St. Valentine’s dinner party: “Julia, you are the butter to my bread and the breath of my life,” a poetic line, beautifully delivered by Stanley Tucci in a brilliant performance as Julia’s husband, a quiet understated Renaissance man and career diplomat who is her rock of Gibraltar,  proving that uncommon people can be as romantically appealing as Romeo and Juliette.

julia_and_juliaWhen she is unsure what to do with the rest of her life, Paul asks “What do you really like to do?” as they sit in a French restaurant.
“Well, I do like to eat.” she responds.
“And you’re so good at it too.”, he says.
“Yes, yes,” both laughing uncontrollably, “and I’m growing right in front of you as we speak,” as she feeds on some fillet of sole.

The movie is constructed like The Hours, a 2002 film based on the Virginia Woolf novel Mrs. Dalloway that won an Oscar for Nicole Kidman as Best Actress. In a similar way, separate story lines are connected through time by a book. In this case, Mastering The Art Of French Cooking, used by Julie Powell, a Queens housewife in 2002, living a drab, uninteresting life surrounded by friends who have made it, not knowing what to do with herself until she decides to cook all 534 recipes from Child’s cookbook in one year, then writing about it in a blog: The Julie And Julia Project. Unfortunately, the Julie Powell scenes, played adequately by Amy Adams, are far less interesting than the captivating love story of Julia and Paul Child. The film would have been much better served on a buffet tray had it focused solely on Streep and Tucci’s characters which with all that food on display makes one irresistibly hungry for more by the time it’s over. This adaptation also has some wonderfully colorful scenes of the streets and markets of Paris with a running time of 2 hours and 4 minutes. Never the less, it’s a good film worth seeing before having dinner, perhaps at a French Restaurant.

Meryl Streep proves once again that she is the foremost American actress of her generation and is sure to get a sixteenth Oscar nomination come January 2010.Tucci is outstanding as Paul Child and conveys much with gestures, expressions and eye contact. Julie And Julia is an unusually touching love story between two uncommon people.

For a full list of credits see the Idbm database.

Further references:
Mastering The Art Of French Cooking
My Life In France
Julia Child
Meryl Streep
Stanley Tucci
Nora Ephron
The French Chef

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