Julie & Julia

Released: 2009
Director: Nora Ephron

Starring: Amy Adams, Meryl Streep


An enjoyable biopic of two women and how cooking changed their lives



There’s an ongoing discussion on film blogs, review sites and magazines – why aren’t there more female directors?  Why aren’t female directors recognised for their work?  Are too many women shackled by the ghettoisation of making films for other women?  It’s telling that the only woman to have won the Oscar for Best Director (Kathryn Bigelow) did so for war film The Hurt Locker.  Can women be both critically and commercially successful in Hollywood by appealing to a predominately female audience?

One of my favourite Hollywood women is writer/director Nora Ephron.  She is firmly in the chick flick camp but her films are clever, funny and moving.  She wrote When Harry Met Sally and wrote and directed Sleepless in Seattle.  For those alone she deserves recognition as one of the greats of the genre.  Not all of her work has hit the same heights – I was massively disappointed with Bewitched where Nicole Kidman attempts to wiggle her nose through a thick layer of botox.  Elizabeth Montgomery was so much better.  Even so, I was looking forward to her latest release Julie and Julia, hoping that it would be a welcome return to form.

Julie & Julia is a double biopic based on the successful Julie/Julia Project blog by New Yorker Julie Powell.  Played by the always adorable Amy Adams, Julie finds that she has no purpose in life – she’s spending her days working at the Lower Manhatten Development Corporation taking calls of complaint about plans for rebuilding the World Trade Center.  In the evenings she relaxes by cooking for herself and her husband in their tiny flat in Queens.  As a challenge she decides to cook all 524 recipes from Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” in just one year and record her progress on her blog.  Woven into the story of Julie’s challenge is that of Julia Child’s life in Paris.  Cue luscious cookery scenes, tantrums when things don’t go quite to plan and the murder of a poor lobster.  The narrative nicely weaves together the similarities between the women – their search for purpose in life, relationships with their husbands and eventual triumphs despite difficulties along the way.

Amy Adams and Meryl Streep are both excellent.  Amy Adams has such an endearing quality that it’s impossible not to love her – she could play a mass murderer of kittens and I’d still think she was utterly sweet.  Meryl Streep is wonderful – her accent might not quite match Julia Child’s but the exuberant personality is there.  As is the heartbreak of not having children displayed in one brief, but utterly touching scene.  Stanley Tucci as Paul Child is fabulous, which is a shame because it highlights just how insipid and charmless Chris Messina is as Julie’s husband Eric.   Still – this is a film about strong, feisty women not their husbands.  If I had one complaint about Julie & Julia it is that there isn’t enough of Julia Child’s story, perhaps Ephron needs to write another film just about this one remarkable woman.

That one niggle aside I thoroughly enjoyed Julie & Julia.  It’s not up there with Sleepless in Seattle, but nor thankfully does it rank alongside Bewitched.  She may never win an Oscar or be regarded as one of the greatest directors of all time but Nora Ephron creates sweet, enjoyable, funny films that I watch over and over again.  The same can’t be said of some of the “great” men of Hollywood.

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  1. Annie says:

    It’s a nice film. Although I fell asleep watching it, I liked the bits I saw :-)

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