Last week, Gourmet Chick invited me along to a preview of Julie & Julia, a film that I’d wanted to see since reading this review in the New York Times. Here’s the quick description of the film from that review:
In 2002, more than half a century after Julia [Child] and her husband, Paul, arrived in France — a debarkation that provides the movie’s opening scene — a young woman named Julie Powell decided to answer that question in the most literal and systematic way imaginable. A would-be writer working at a thankless office job and living with her husband in Long Island City, Queens, Ms. Powell spent a year cooking every single recipe in “Mastering the Art” and writing a blog about the experience. The blog led to the memoir that provided Ms. Ephron’s movie with its title and the lesser half of its narrative.
Trimming some fat from Ms. Powell’s rambling book (and draining some of the juice as well), Ms. Ephron’s script emphasizes the parallels between the lives of her leading characters, who never meet. (They appear on screen together only when Julie watches Julia on television). Julie (Amy Adams) and Julia have loving, supportive husbands — the affable Chris Messina is Eric Powell; the impeccable Stanley Tucci is Paul Child — who only occasionally express impatience with their wives’ gastronomic obsessions. (Paul by arching an eyebrow, Eric by storming out of the apartment.)
I’ve read the two books on which the film is based (Julie and Julia by Julie Powell and My Life in France by Julia Child and her grand-nephew, Alex Prud’homme), and I remember both books being a lot more entertaining at the beginning than they were at the end. So I guess it’s no surprise that the film, too, started out a delight and then dragged on a bit (it’s 123 minutes long).
Despite my love of food blogging and the occasional “that’s so true!” moment (e.g., Julie Powell’s first blog reader is her mom), I wish the film had cut out the Julie Powell storyline and stuck entirely with Julia Child’s, not least because Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci were so fab as Julia and Paul Child. I don’t know how Meryl Streep pulled off that falsetto voice without doubling over in laughter, but her Julia Child made me smile. A lot.
So, if you’re a francophile and/or have ambitions and dreams beyond your current humdrum reality, definitely treat yourself to watching this charming film, which opens in the UK this coming Friday, 11 September.