04 September 2011

Julie and Julia (starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams)

Julie and Julia is a film based on a book, which itself is a true story written by Julie Powell. Julie is a bored and rather flighty young American woman who needs some kind of focus to her life. She decides to cook her way through a French recipe book written by Julia Child a few decades earlier. She determines to cook every single recipe, and to complete them within the next year. Her husband persuades her to blog about the experience... and the blog takes off in unexpected ways.

I had never heard of Julia Child, but apparently her book - for Americans to learn how to cook in the French style, written some decades earlier - is quite well-known in the USA. The movie cleverly switches between Julie's story in the 1990s to that of Julia herself, as an American living in Paris trying to find ways to occupy herself.

Meryl Streep is brilliant in the role of Julia; she seems able to turn her abilities to just about any character, and I found her entirely believable - larger than life (both literally and metaphorically), a mixture of confidence and insecurity. Amy Adams as Julie was lovable, too, and quite believable if a bit annoying and over-emotional at times. Their husbands - played by Stanley Tucci and Chris Messina respectively - were likeable too, their interactions with their wives realistic and engaging.

As much as anything the film is about food, and the art of cooking, with some wonderful looking dishes being prepared. The amount of butter and cream used seems a little unreal in today's low-fat climate, and I did have to close my eyes at the scenes using live lobsters. But I was rooting for Julie to get through her challenge - and also for Julia, even while knowing that her book must have been published at some point!

The ending was perhaps a little sudden with no real explanation about what was going on; I wondered if it would be clearer in the book, but most of the reviews I have seen rate the film as rather better than the book. Having enjoyed the movie so much, I don't want to spoil it by having negative impressions of Julie, nor am I interested in a book full of bad language.

'Julie and Julia' is rated 12 in the UK, PG-13 in the USA, probably due to a few instances of bad language - however they were rare and mostly in context. There are several implied bedroom scenes but no nudity or anything unsuitable for children is actually shown.

Definitely recommended. There's an interesting 'extra' with the director and cast talking about the film and their roles in making it, which was enjoyable to watch afterwards.

review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews 4th September 2011

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