Thursday, November 5, 2009

Julie & Julia : Two For The Price Of One?

Last week, I spent 123 minutes watching two women cook.

Cooking has never been on my "I like" list although I am well able to whip up a few simple dishes. Even then, "Julie and Julia" caught my fancy.

Julie and Julia is a very heart-warming culinary comedy involving Julia Child (Meryl Streep) and Julie Powell (Amy Adams). Written and directed by Nora Ephron, it is based on two true stories adapted from memoirs of Julia Child (My Life in France) and Julie Powell's memoir of her year spent cooking and blogging her way through Child's cookbook, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking".

The movie toggles between the two stories which are half a century apart:

Mid 20th Century: Julia Child, a restless wife of an American diplomat in Paris, constantly longing to write a cookbook about French cooking for Americans. She spends years writing one and spends a few more looking for a willing and suitable publisher.

Early 21th Century: Julie Powell, a young American wife, bored with her work, wants to do more with her life. She throws herself a challenge to replicate Child’s 524 recipes from 'Mastering the Art of French Cooking' in 365 days. She blogs her way through the cookbook and her blog grows in popularity. Thanks to modern technology, she does not need to find a publisher to tell her story.

Child is a tall and gawky middle-age woman who reminds me of Big Bird. Her total lack of self-consciousness and cheerfulness can be contagious. Powell, on the other hand, is a petite young lady who constantly in need of assurance.

I am not going to turn this review into a spoiler. So, to cut the long story short, both women find their fulfillment through cooking, err, well, with lots of butter.

It may seem that I am getting two movies with the price of one but I did not get double the satisfaction. In fact, the movie would have been better being "Julia Child" rather than "Julie and Julia".

If I remove Meryl Streep from the movie, what is left would have been a bore. It is a case of 'buy-one-get-one-free' when you actually only need one.

Meryl Streep's acting is magnificent as she has always been. Each time the story flashes back to her era, the movie brightens up. I think she can play any role except singing (I watched Mamma Mia and I'm convinced that she can't sing).

The movie is rated PG in Singapore and advised to contain "some sexual references" (I'd replace 'some' with 'hardly any') . Generally, it has received fairly good reviews of about 3/5 to 4/5 stars. If you are a foodie and a blogger as well, you would probably give it a 5/5.

Overall, the movie is delicious, warm and funny. I enjoyed it. However, I am a blogger but not a foodie. I like the 'Julia' side of the story but find the 'Julie' side more dull. So, I guess my rating would be five but halved.

Verdict: 2 to 5 stars, depending on whether you are a Streep fan, a blogger or a foodie.

Official Trailer

"Find something you're passionate about and
keep tremendously interested in it."
~Julia Child~
(1912 - 2004)

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