Archive for May 7th, 2010

Julie and Julia

Julie and Julia came out at a busy time last summer and only lasted a week at the cinema, hence I missed it.  It seems to have taken an age to come to DVD but now it has I have finally seen it and really enjoyed it.  To set the scene, coming from England I am aware of who Julia Child was but have only ever seen short clips of her on TV and parody’s such as the Dan Aykroyd Saturday Night Live one used in the movie.  I had never heard of Julie Powel or her Blog.

Based on a true story, two true stories to be more precise the movie follows two women in two different eras.  Covering approximately a decade in the life of Julia Child (Meryl Streep) leading up to the publication of her first book “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”.  This is a middle aged pre fame Child.  The second story is set in just over a year and tells the story of Julie Powel (Amy Adams) a failed writer who is working in a call centre for a corporation charged with the reconstruction of Lower Manhattan following September 11 terrorist attacks.  Looking for direction in her life Julie starts a blog chronicling her attempt to cook all 524 recipes in Child’s aforementioned cookbook.  She does this in the cramped kitchen of the Queens apartment she shares with her husband and cat.

Keeping viewers interested while the film flicks between two largely unconnected narratives is the key to making the film work, this is something that director Nora Ephron does really well.  You never feel there is too much of one story and not enough of the other.  This is no mean feat when you consider the more flashy and showy Julia Child part of the movie with a larger than life performance from Streep and great support from Stanley Tucci (He missed out on a well deserved Oscar nomination but did pick one up the same year for the inferior The Lovely Bones) could have overpowered the more down to earth modern day section.  But as with their previous movie together (Doubt) Amy Adams more than holds her own.  In fact it’s a first rate performance from Amy Adams’ that holds the movie together.  Had she failed to capture the audience her character could have come across as an interloper in a Julia Child biography.  The car crash that this movie could have become would have looked something like cutting Bridget Jones’s Diary with a Jane Austen biography.  As it is the two stories enhance each other rather than compete with each other.

Simply, but well shot the movie portrays Paris in the 50’s and post 9/11 Manhattan in a strange juxtaposition not drawing any great differences between the people or the places suggesting an underlying message that things really don’t change that much.  If not for the fact they are true stories it would be easy to consider the people and the places as a metaphor for each other.  As Paris recovers from the war and New York rebuilds after 9/11 Julie and Julia are looking for direction in their lives having reached a seemingly important crossroads.  Had this been a work of fiction the movie could easily been written off as unbelievable as the two women find not only direction but also success.  Julie Powel may not have had the same impact on a nation by changing the way they ate the way Julie Child did but she did achieve a lot from what started out as a blog that she didn’t know if anyone would ever read.  Whilst I don’t have a book deal or a movie been made about me I know what it is like to start a blog and more importantly I know what its like to get your first coment (from someone who isn’t a friend or relative) and at that moment realise someone is actually reading what you have to say.

A great little movie that really deserved a better release, here in the UK, it must have done okay in America as at a time when so many smaller movies fail to make any money (as their cinema releases are swallowed up by blockbusters) it is worth mentioning that this movie grossed over three times its relatively modest $40 million budget.  A compelling movie with first rate acting.

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