Movie Review: Julie & Julia (2009)

Julie and Julia is Nora Ephorn’s screenplay adaption of two books by two different ladies. In 2002, government employee Julie Powell came up with the idea to begin a food blog that chronicled her challenge of cooking her way through all 524 recipe’s in Julia Childs’ cookbook “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” in 365 days (she succeeded in her mission and in doing so attracted the attention of the New York Times). She’s now turned her blog into a memoire (also titled “Julie and Julia”) and it is one of Ephorn’s inspirations. The other is from the lady herself, Julia Childs, and her memoire “My Life in France.”

In the telling, the film continuously cuts back and forth between following Julie (Amy Adams) and Julia (Meryl Streep) as they lead their separate and wholly dissimilar lives. However, Julie has such a fully formed idea of who Julia is in her mind that this ideal almost begins to take on a presence in its own right alongside her. In a sense, Julia becomes Julie’s imaginary friend.

Throughout Julie and Julia, strong parallels between the two women are highlighted by Ephron (she also directed). For example, they are both married, in search of something meaningful to do with their lives, and they both turn to food for fulfillment. From this, it’s easy to see why Julie idealizes Julia, even though there are areas in which Julie is failing miserably at that Julia has had profound success in. We see Julia moving into a beautiful house in Paris juxtaposed with Julie moving into a depressing apartment. Also, Julia has a highly supportive, almost saint-like husband (Stanley Tucci) with whom she never argues with, whereas Julie’s partner (Chris Messina) tires very quickly of her obsession with food and it becomes a bone of contention in their relationship.

Yet even though there are many similarities, there is an ultimate difference between the two — Julie and Julia have opposing motives for cooking. While Julia’s career appears to have a selfless motive of wanting to teach Americans to cook, Julie’s motive is just all about Julie. Julia Childs is portrayed as a light hearted, fun-loving woman with a zest for life — all who meet her adore her as she is such a kind and generous person (many may think Meryl’s performance is highly overacted, but if you’ve ever seen Julia’s American television show you will know that Meryl in fact gives an Oscar deserving performance). Julie, on the other hand, is almost bitter with her lot in life and looking for an escape.

I found Julie and Julia to be a successful commentary on the way modern women live their lives, offering up the message that women need to lighten up (particularly when it comes to their diet) and start enjoying themselves. Live like Julia Childs and find that perfect work/life balance. Be enthusiastic about whatever it is you want to do, but never lose sight of the things that are important in life (i.e., a loving relationship with a husband or boyfriend). In looking to bring some enjoyment back into her life, Julie goes overboard — setting herself an almost impossible and all consuming task, which puts a huge amount of pressure on her and almost breaks up her relationship. (I’m sure many people will be able to associate with this on some level, as most of us are guilty of putting ourselves under too much pressure at one time or another).

Julie and Julia is an intelligent reflection of modern day society and a heart-warming tribute to the much loved Julia Childs.

Critical Movie Critic Rating:
4 Star Rating: Good


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