Julie and Julia
Nora Ephron’s romantic drama/comedy Julie and Julia is the upshot of her adaptation of two different memoirs, those of Julia Child - American celebrity chef, author and TV personality, and Julie Powell – a popular blogger inspired by Julia Child, who documented her daily adventures wrestling with the 524 recipes in Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, all of which she pledged to conquer over the space of one year.
The movie intersperses the stories of the lives of the two women, separated by time and space, both of whom found joy, fulfilment and inspiration after diving headlong into the buttery world of French cooking. Julia Child’s autobiographical My Life in France, written with Alex Prud'homme, and Julie Powell’s Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen, form the inspiration for the movie.
Julia Child, played by Meryl Streep, is credited with having brought French cuisine into American homes with her well loved television shows and precise, detailed, artfully illustrated cookbooks - the most notable of which are The French Chef, one of the first televised cooking shows, and Mastering the Art of French Cooking, a two-volume cookbook written in collaboration with Frenchwomen Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle.
Julie Powell, played by Amy Adams, is a young, “lowly office cubicle worker” who can’t cook. In her quest to revitalise her marriage, boost her sagging self-confidence and pep up her dull, frustrating, rewardless existence, she embarks on the challenge of a French cooking marathon and blogs about it.
Julia’s Child’s towering personality, her passion, warmth and joie de vivre are scintillatingly brought to life by the ever perfect Streep, who shares crackling chemistry with Stanley Tucci, playing her husband, diplomat Paul Child. Julie Powell’s character, on the other hand, suffers in comparison. As the movie switches back and forth between the stories of the two women whose paths never cross, Ephron does try to establish parallels, but the shallow, self-pitying, self-obsessed, ever-complaining Powell becomes that much harder to endure when juxtaposed with the exuberant Child, and there isn’t a lot that Amy Adams can do to infuse her role with something worthy of empathy.