Oct 19, 2009

[Movies] Julie & Julia (2009)

Julie & JuliaIt's somewhat ironic that I only got into cooking this year, just as I got around to watching a movie about cooking over the weekend with my partner. My cooking skills are far from amazing at this point but it's definitely a fulfilling project that has proven to be quite enjoyable and it's definitely something I'd encourage everyone to attempt to get into at least once in your life.

Cooking is universal in terms of the need for it but not necessarily in terms of how how often people are comfortable doing it. In this age of instant noodles and ready-to-eat microwavable meals, a lot of people have taken the "easier" route instead of going through the trials and tribulations of learning how to cook. It's sad but true, really.

So I guess this movie became a lot more meaningful for me because of my somewhat personal slant in all this. Just maybe...

Julie & Julia is an interesting comedic drama that tells two stories. The first involves the somewhat worn-out Julie Powell (Amy Adams) who remains an aspiring writer at heart but is stuck in a government job that is quite emotionally draining on her. She eventually comes to the idea of starting a blog as a project to give her a little direction and something to do and comes up with the idea of writing about her attempt to cook every single recipe in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking within a single year, given her own passion for cooking.

On the flip side, the movie also follows the life of Julia Child (Meryl Streep) when she first came to Paris and her own adventure of learning how to cook. It's interesting to note she starts out not even knowing how to cook eggs properly and eventually ends up being the internationally famous cook known the world-over. Heck, even I remember watching her cooking shows on PBS back when I was still living in LA.

Thus the movie operates on two parallel tracks and switches back and forth between the two movies in a surprisingly coherent pattern that gives the entire movie a nice method of pacing.

meryl streep as julia childImage by daves cupboard via Flickr

As always, Meryl Streep was just amazing as Julia Child. It didn't at all feel like some cheap knock-off impersonation of the famous cook, but instead one could really believe she was in fact THE Julia Child. She totally captured her speech patterns and mannerisms and pretty much carried herself as Julia Child did before, which made for a very interesting and entertaining performance.

Amy Adams did pretty well too and she's certainly come a long way from being the singing Disney Princess in Enchanted. It was a tad surprising to see her with really short hair, but that definitely didn't take anything away from her performance. One could really empathize with all her frustrations and her good days and bad days, all defined around the 524 recipes in the book.

The movie as a whole was one without true conflict, which some people may or may not find bothersome. Let's face it - we generally have a good idea of how both story threads are going to resolve themselves and they didn't exactly face major obstacles in the way of their goals. Julie Powell will eventually cook all those recipes (and hence the eventual book deal and now a movie) and Julia Child will learn French cooking and will write her cookbook. These are not spoilers people - they're facts!

Still, it is a nice, quaint movie that one can watch to feel good. It might inspire you to cook or perhaps it'll inspire you to blog. Whichever way, it's still a movie that this geek will strongly recommend, even if only to see Meryl Streep fulfill the role of Julia Child and all the little camera tricks they employ to make sure she looks significantly taller than the rest of the world.

Julie and Julia gets 4 pots of Beef Bourguignon out of a possible 5.

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