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March 15, 2010

Julie & Julia Movie Review

Anyone who knows me knows how much I hate cooking. Baking? I love baking! But cooking? I’ll pass, especially if there is raw meat involved. So, it goes without saying a love of cooking is not what drew me to Julie & Julia – it was the cast!

Julie & Julia struck gold, with Meryl Streep, Amy Adams and Stanley Tucci in the central roles. Fans of The Devil Wears Prada will hardly recognize Meryl as luminescent Julia Child, proving once again that Meryl Streep is capable of anything; Hollywood’s sweetheart. Amy Adams, as usual, does not disappoint; she brings an earnest, believable charm and energy to the screen. Stanely Tucci shines as the adoring, supportive Mr. Child – his chemistry with Meryl Streep leaps off the page. Chris Messina, as Amy Adams’ character’s husband, provides a great balance to Amy’s wide-eyed innocence. I would be remiss, as well, if I failed to mention the spectacular performance by Jane Lynch, as Julia Child’s sister Dorothy. Jane matches Meryl’s energy and joie de vivre second for second; she is enthralling.

Two parallel stories are told at once in Julie & Julia. The Julie half takes place in post-9/11 New York City, where Julie works a stressful job helping people whose lives have been directly affected by the attacks on New York City. She spends her days talking with the sick, the injured, the suffering, and the mourning; she finds solace in her Julia Child cookbook. To give herself a creative outlet, she sets herself a deadline: cook through the entire book in one year. We see Julie struggle, stress, eat, enjoy, suffer, and work toward her goal.

In the Julia half, we see Mr. and Mrs. Child arrive in Paris in 1949, where Mr. Child has been transferred for work. We see Julia struggle to keep herself occupied in Paris, finally deciding to to take a cooking class at Le Cordon Bleu. This decision changes her life; we see her change from being Mrs. Child to being Julia Child, kitchen goddess. We get a glimpse into not just Julia’s kitchen, but also her marriage, her heartache, and her dreams.

Julie & Julia artfully weaves together these two stories of women struggling to find something in themselves that gives them peace and excitement. This film is the perfect combination of love, hope, fun, sex, French, heartache, and most importantly – FOOD.

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