Monday, August 10, 2009
My friend Beverly and I went to see "Julie and Julia" yesterday, which is a film based on Julie Powell's book of the same name, in which Powell writes about the year she spent cooking her way through Julia Child's book Mastering the Art of French Cooking and blogging about it.
I read the book several years ago and enjoyed it, although it's a little less about food and a little more about being almost 30 and struggling with the idea that your life isn't going the way you thought it would. Powell's blogging/cooking project gives her a new path to follow, and a sort of guardian angel in the person of Julia Child.
I was surprised to hear that a movie was coming out based on the book, because there didn't seem to be quite enough in the book to base a movie on. The moviemakers must have agreed with me, because they split the movie roughly in half, and showed two parallel stories at the same time--Julie Powell's (played by Amy Adams) cooking adventure and Julia Child's (played by Meryl Streep) cooking adventure.
The Julia Child segments are based on another book, one of the best memoirs I've ever read: Julia Child's My Life in France, the story of her marriage, moving to France and falling into what was to become the defining task of her life: learning French cooking and teaching it to Americans.
So in the movie we have the modern-day segments, with Amy Adams battling subway crowds to work and then coming home to cook in her lousy Long Island apartment kitchen, and then the Julia segments, which take place in Paris in the 1940s and 50s and which feature Meryl Streep doing a dead-on and completely delightful version of Julia Child. Two guesses as to which storyline is more interesting!
The stories do play off each other perfectly, as each woman is trying to find her niche in life, supported by a loving husband, but although Amy Adams is a perfectly good actress, every time Meryl Streep comes onto the screen, you forget all about whatever Adams was doing in the scene before. You can't take your eyes off Julia, who is as bright and vivid and full of life as she was in real life. Stanley Tucci plays her devoted husband Paul Child, and you just want their scenes to go on forever, it's such a pleasure to watch them together.
Plus the costumes, the cars, the sets from the Julia segments are pure eye candy. Bev and I loved this movie. It was funny and inspiring and beautifully filmed. Sort of a chick flick, but the men in the audience seemed to enjoy it as much as the women did. It was also a pretty clean movie (much cleaner than Powell's book, anyway) with just one or two obscenities and only implied sex between loving married couples. (It's mother-in-law-friendly, Viv!) We walked out of the theatre smiling.
I wonder if this is the first movie about blogging?!