Friday, May 4, 2012

Julie and Julia

Movie Review : Julie and Julia
Director : Nora Ephron
Genre : Drama
Starring : Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Stanley Tucci, Chris Messina
Released : 2009
My Rating : 6 out of 10

Anyone who has any interest in cooking has heard of Julia Child. Her first book "Mastering The Art Of French Cooking" was released in 1961, and it created culinary revolution by making fine French cooking easily accessible to American households. Still widely available, and universally loved, it is a true classic. Subsequent TV show, "The French Chef" confirmed her as the American Cooking Icon. (To be honest, I have read those 20 pages of detailed description on how to make an omelet, and I still cannot make a good French Omelet. But that's hardly Julia's fault.)

In 2002, a Queens resident Julie Powell. decided to cook all the 524 recipes in this classic in a year, and blog her daily experiences. She needed a distraction from a stressful job and her husband suggested this idea because of her love for cooking. This blog became popular, and Julie Powell wrote a book about that one year in her life.

That book is the inspiration for "Julie and Julia". It examines the lives of both women. They never met in person, so the movie flips back and forth between the two stories from two different periods. Sometimes, these switches work, sometimes they seem forced.

There are some interesting situations and funny moments. I didn't know that Julia Child took to cooking because she didn't have much to do while her diplomat husband was stationed in Paris. She tried different classes - including bridge, but eventually joined a cooking class, because she loved French food. She wasn't readily accepted, but she persevered. Her struggles and subsequent successes give a good insight into her personality.

These occasional moments fail to cover the movie's flaws. Neither story is particularly exceptional and to stick to the theme - both are a bit bland. Not all life-stories are eventful, and in such cases, the script writers have to rise to the challenge of making them engaging. In this movie that didn't happen, hence it feels long and drawn out.

I am a fan of Meryl Streep, but her acting in this movie felt very unnatural. I know she was trying to sound like Julia Child, but it was so forced and monotonous, that it became a bit irritating. Amy Adams did her best, and she succeeds in being cute most of the time. The problem is, her character is selfish and not really that likeable.

Overall, I was not too impressed with this movie. And I love cooking. It's an above average movie, and if you don't have too high expectations, you might like it. It's correctly rated PG-13, but kids will be frankly bored.

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