Julie and Julia
Sometimes It Takes Two Books to Make One Movie
Starring: Amy Adams, Meryl Streep
By Tom Bevis
You all know about blogging. Truly the next step in publishing, blogs (cued from the term “web logs”) enable a wide range or writers to share their thoughts and ideas to thousands of others across the world wide web, writers who otherwise might not have access to such an audience. In recent years, blogs have exploded in popularity, and a lot of them have gotten quite a bit of attention. “The Julie/Julia Project” is one of them.
Later re-titled “Julia & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen” then once again re-titled “Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously,” the blog-turned-book gained some small-time attention and eventually shortened its title once more to “Julie & Julia” for it’s big-screen debut. The film is based part on “Julie & Julia,” by blogger Julie Powell, and part on autobiography “My Life in France” by Julia Child.
The film is evenly balanced between the two stories. On the side of Julia Child (Meryl Streep), the focus is on the writing and subsequent publishing of her first cookbook, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” On the side of Julie Powell (Amy Adams), the focus is on the attempt to cook all 524 recipes in Child’s book over the course of one year.
While director/screenwriter Nora Ephron attempt to link the two stories by using subtle elements, such as personal episode and cooking paraphernalia, more effort could have been made to link the two stories (I was surprised they hadn’t used the simple guise of the recipes themselves). The two stories seem to intertwine and overlap at almost random occasion and rarely coincide poetically or even sensibly. With that out of the way, that’s my only real complaint about the movie.
There are no immediate technical flaws that hinder the overall quality of the film: it’s put together skillfully and beautifully. The scenes all mesh seamlessly, the actors all work perfectly in their roles and deliver their lines with the utmost competence, and everything is in its own place. In other words, it’s apparent that this is a very carefully thought out film and it’s clear that the filmmakers put a lot of effort and emotion into it.
The problem is it just doesn’t get much more pigeon-holed. It’s a story that, at its base, is essentially two romances and the overall mask slapped over these two stories is female-based development through cooking. In other words, it’s a total chick flick. This isn’t a problem, it doesn’t bother me in the least, but it certainly cuts down the audience base considerably. Luckily for the filmmakers, the female portion of the audience pool is more powerful than the male (you know – guys will take their girls to see any old thing, but girls aren’t always willing to see those raunchy or overly violent testosterone pictures).
Long story short: if you like stories about women, you like cooking, and you have just the slightly interest in blogging, you may very well enjoy the film. I wasn’t annoyed by it, bored by it, I was never offended or insulted, it’s just not the kind of thing that grabs my attention. If you’re the same, you’d be better off catching “The Hurt Locker,” directed by fellow woman-director Katheryn Bigelow, who refused to be pigeon-holed or typecasted.