She was bigger than life, with an undeniable joie de vivre, and she changed the way Americans thought about cooking. She waltzed around her kitchen, wearing her ubiquitous pearls, preparing dishes so delectable we could practically smell them through the television. Generations of â€œfoodiesâ€ were born because of Julia Child, and her signature sign off, â€œBon AppÃ©tit!â€ became an essential catchphrase we used when we knew we were about to eat a really great meal.
She was a self proclaimed Government drone by day, renegade foodie by night. Too old for theatre, too young for children, and too bitter for anything else, Julie Powell was looking for a challenge. Risking her marriage, her job, and her catsâ€™ well-being, she signed on for a deranged assignment. A blog. 365 days. Test all 536 recipes from Childâ€™s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.”
Meryl Streep is Julia Child and Amy Adams is Julie Powell in writer-director Nora Ephronâ€™s adaptation of two bestselling memoirs: Powellâ€™s Julie & Julia and My Life in France, by Julia Child with Alex Prudâ€™homme. â€œJulie & Juliaâ€ intertwines the lives of the two women who, though separated by time and space, are both at loose ends…until they discover that with the right combination of passion, fearlessness and butter, anything is possible.
Streep embodies Julia Child, delivering a flawless performance as the intrepid chef with the burbling, yet melodic voice. A lesser actress might have slipped into caricature; Meryl has no false moments. Stanley Tucci, Streepâ€™s co-star in â€œThe Devil Wears Prada,â€ is the perfect salt to her pepper, as Childâ€™s beloved husband, Paul. Amy Adams, who co-starred with Streep in last yearâ€™s â€œDoubt,â€ brings a depth of desperation and determination, and never makes us forget that the story is about both Julie AND Julia. Even though the two actresses are never onscreen together, they make for a very memorable movie couple.
Ephron assembles all the right ingredients, deftly blending the two characterâ€™s stories: Julia had to forge new ground as a lone woman in a male dominated industry, Julie had to find her way out of a dead end world. Both women discovered cooking, not just as food, but as an affirmation of love and life.
As light as a lemon soufflÃ©, and as warm and welcome as Beef Bourguignon, â€œJulie & Juliaâ€ easily rises above the fast food comedies currently playing in theaters. As Julia would say, â€œBon AppÃ©tit!â€
(Running Time: 2 hr. 3 min. MPAA Rating: PG-13 for brief strong language and some sensuality.)
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