A guest-review by Seana Duncan.
I don’t like to cook. I can cook, I just don’t like it. But this charming and funny movie made me want to cook. The ebullient Julie & Julia tells two stories; the story of Julia Child’s time in France and how she came to be a culinary icon, and the story of Julie Powell, a drab, whiny government worker who spends 365 days cooking the 524 recipes from Julia Child’s cookbook and blogging about it.
Julie and Julia are both women at a crossroads in their lives. They are bored and their lives lack direction. Julia Child and her husband Paul arrive in Paris in 1948 when Paul, who works for the U.S State Department, is assigned there. Julia, bored with French life, enrolls in Le Cordon Bleu cooking school and wins over her stuffy male classmates and her crabby headmaster with her unaffected exuberance and enthusiastic competitive spirit.
Julie Powell is trapped in a cubicle in post-9/11 Manhattan after spending several years temping, trying to get her half-written novel published. Her one passion is cooking and desperate to prove to her mother, as well as her husband that she can actually finish something in her life, she vows to complete all 524 recipes in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in 365 days.
Meryl Streep is utterly dazzling as Julia Child and she perfectly channels the real Julia Child. She portrays Julia in a warm, delightful way, and I found myself wishing that I could have been friends with Julia Child myself. Stanley Tucci, Streep’s costar in The Devil Wears Prada, is her adoring husband Paul. Amy Adams does as well as she can as Julie Powell, but her story is not nearly as funny nor as interesting as Julia’s.
But the true star of this movie is the food. Twenty minutes into the movie, I was starving. You can practically smell the sourdough, taste the chocolate and feel the butter dripping down your chin. Like I said, this movie made me want to cook. And eat. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon.