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A few weeks ago, I posted a photo of a few food-related books that I picked up at the Book Cellar. One of them was Julie Powell's Julie & Julia, about a blogger who wrote about her year cooking every recipe (524!) in the hefty book Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Julia Child's 1961 classic cookbook.
Last night I was flipping through the TV channels and found the 2009 movie version, starring Amy Adams as Julie Powell and Meryl Streep as Julia Child. (Streep was rightfully nominated for an Academy Award for her performance.)
The movie, written by the brilliant Nora Ephron, was a mashup of Child's memoir My Life in France and Julie & Julia, alternating the women's stories. Most of the reviews I had read stated that the Julia Child part of movie, set and filmed in France, was a stronger story than Powell's story, set mostly in a tiny Queens apartment kitchen.
I would agree with this assessment. Streep and Stanley Tucci, who played her loving husband Paul, have an amazing chemistry that shines through in this story. (Anyone who saw them as boss and assistant in The Devil Wears Prada can attest to this as well.) Streep really has a ball playing the (literally) bigger-than-life Julia Child, who introduced Americans to the cuisine of French cooking.
Child lived life to the fullest, and her and Paul's love story was a joy to watch come to life on screen. The setting of France 1949 was so beautiful too, so bright and sunny, it should be a travel video for France.
One of my favorite scenes was the one with Child's unbridled enthusiasm as she joins an all-male class at the Cordon Bleu, much to the consternation of the female administrator who wanted the large American woman in a beginner class.
The Valentine's dinner party scene at the Child's was sweet and charming as well, with Paul giving a beautiful toast to the love of his life.
Perhaps because the Julie Powell scenes were set mostly in her cramped kitchen, where she worked mostly alone, recreating Child's dishes, those contemporary scenes seemed closed in and less exciting. I did like Amy Adams and Chris Messina as her husband, and supporting actors like Jane Lynch as Child's just-as-outgoing and tall sister were well cast.
Overall I liked the movie a good deal, and would recommend it to everyone who grew up, like I did, wondering who the heck that big lady with the odd voice and contagious laugh was, who was cooking on TV and looking like she was have a blast doing it.