Before Rachel Ray, Julia Child was the ultimate icon of cooking shows. Many people knew her as an eccentric and animated TV show host that made great food, especially French cuisine. Meryl Streep is another person who would be in Child’s popular arena, but for acting. Since first making her film debut in Julia in 1977 (not about Child), she has racked up 15 Academy Award nominations and won two. (Supporting Actress, Kramer vs. Kramer; Actress, Sophie’s Choice) Her last nomination was just last year for Doubt. I’m going out on a limb here, but I think Streep will be nominated again. It won’t even matter if this movie sucks, Streep is shockingly amazing as Child and she should get her 16th nomination overall.
Julie & Julia is not entirely a biopic about the cooking legend, but instead takes a different approach. It focuses on Child, yes, but more specifically when she lived in Paris with her husband during the 1940s and 50s. It also chronicles how she first got attached to cooking. The other approach the movie takes is focusing on a character named Julie Powell during the present day. Based on actual events, Powell decided to take a cookbook, written by Child, and baked all 524 recipes it featured in a year. While cooking, she chronicled her experience on a blog called the “Julie/Julia Project.” The blog became a hit and Powell landed a book deal to talk about her events. She wrote “Julia and Julia: 365 Days, 524 recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen” and it was published in 2005. This non-linear plot should be an interesting element, although a biopic about Child played by Streep does sound enticing.
Amy Adams (Junebug) co-stars, as Julie Powell, a cubicle employee who deals with insurance. She is envious of her friends because she can’t match the big-time success they are achieving in their careers. Wanting to be their equal, she tells her husband Eric (Chris Messina, Ira and Abby) about writing a book. Her idea is to bake every recipe from the Julia Child book, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” and write a blog about it. Julia Child is living Paris with her husband Paul (Stanley Tucci, The Devil Wears Prada) while he’s working as a foreign diplomat and is later investigated for being a “so called” Communist during the McCarthy era. While bored in Paris, she decides to take cooking lessons at a French school. She’s startlingly quick to learn and very skilled, often showing up the male cooks. She later gets the inspiration to write a book, which is used by Julie. Julie and Julia’s lives are intertwined from different time eras and both hope to achieve goals to improve themselves.
Nora Ephron, who wrote and directed Julie & Julia, has done such work as Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail. She actually adapted two books for the movie, “My Life In France” by Alex Prud’homme and Julia Powell’s book, “Julie & Julia.”
This one looks to be quite enjoyable and seems to avoid the cliché of the romantic comedy. It will probably appeal to more of the female audience, but it still looks good. Plus, Streep’s performance will be worth it.
Julie & Julia opens August 7th.