Julie and Julia: A Review
A combo platter based on two books, one by blogger Julie Powel, the other My Life in France by Alex Proudhomme and Julia Child, the movie is mostly a delight. Meryl does a slightly toned down Julia impersonation, while Amy Adams tries valliantly to make the drab, depressed Julie interesting.
The Julia sequences are excellent, with Stanley Tucci superb as a smart, funny and oh-so supportive Paul Child. He and Streep have scenes that are master classes of understated comedy, and succeed beautifully in suggesting a world of intimacy through gently overlapping dialouge and some subtle (and some quite overt) suggestions of sexual attraction. Watch out for Jane Lynch in a too brief but luminous portrayal of Julia's even taller sister. There's a delicious scene where the two women are reunited after a long time apart over lunch in a Paris restaurant, which is both laugh-out-loud funny and at the same time a touching mini-portrait of two ugly ducklings, finally and utterly comfortable in their own skins.
When the scene shifts to a drab apartment over a pizzeria in Queens where the admitted narcisist Julie Powel labors over her "Julie & Julia" project, cooking her way through the entire battery of recipes in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, inerest and empathy drop like a poorly-tossed omlette onto the kitchen floor. Compared to the luminously photographed sequences of Julia's life in 1950's Paris, the Julie portions are simply a bore. And when Julie dresses up as Julia for her 30th birthday party, you can be forgiven for wondering if our blogger friend is just a little bit nuts, and in a dreary and sad way to boot.
Still, the film manages to come off. It's funny, compelling and, like the wonderful Julia, ultimately utterly loveable. Here's the trailer: