JWR Articles: Film/DVD - Julie and Julia (Director: Nora Ephron) - December 22, 2009
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Julie and Julia

4 4
123 min.

It’s the “yum” factor

Ingredients:

2 superb performances (Meryl Streep is a delight as Julia Childs—her “I do, I do” echoes link marvellously to Mama Mia; as husband Paul, Stanley Tucci exudes just the right amount of love, devotion and duty)

2 engaging performances (playing Julie Powell, the writer-in-search-of-subject-matter only to find it in the kitchen, Amy Adams is appropriately ambitious and earnest; Chris Messina makes the most of his spousal role, heating up the scenes with two cups of passion and a tbsp of melodrama in their half-baked fight)

3 supporting characters (co-authors of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Linda Emond and Helen Carey as well as Le Cordon bleu gatekeeper, Joan Juliet Buck add several welcome helpings of humour to the Parisian back-story of one of the world’s best-loved cooks)

2 books: My Life in France (Julia Child and Alex Prud’homme) and Julie & Julia (Julie Powell) carefully blended, cut and served up as companion dishes by writer/director Nora Ephron

Several timely snippets of original music (Alexandre Desplat), expertly coloured with sprinkles of jaunty bassoon and dreamy celeste

1 fine cinematographer (Stephen Goldblatt’s camera enjoyed the frequent frames of food as much as viewers’ appetites)

1 superb editor (Richard Marks prevented the narrative from falling flat even as the teasing notion of The Meeting kept the slight drama afloat)

Copious amounts of alcohol (ever-present as meals were prepared and devoured in Julia’s scenes—was that the source of her famous klutziness?; all of that plus martini’s before bedtime in Julie’s realm above a pizzeria)

Cartons of cigarettes in Paris (that both Julia and Paul lived into their nineties belies the warnings on today’s much “milder” cancer sticks); none stateside

Food: as much as can be squeezed into the two-hour runtime bringing extra-delectable meaning to “food for thought” even as the magic of butter, cream, fresh fruits and vegetables reinforce or, as required, cover the flavours of fish, fowl and meat

Method:

Let Streep employ the famous chef’s antics, attitudes and accent unchecked—her sense of timing and complementary visage are as masterfully created as the hundreds of recipes written over many years then famously cooked by Julie in one. Alternate past with present, being careful to layer the narrative in a manner that constantly anticipates the next dish. Keep the historical/political subplots largely on the back burner (McCarthyism and a Twin Tower support centre remind all that basic needs other than food are continually spoiling the world’s broth of peace and happiness). Let the “yum” factor speak for itself and just watch the spurt in sales of Child’s delectable volumes of cholesterol-increasing tomes continue to fly off the shelves and, temporarily yet gratefully, into contented tummies everywhere that the rich components can be afforded.

Yield:

Just over two hours of a visual feast. JWR

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