Julie & Julia

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Release date: August 07, 2009
Directed by: Nora Ephron
Literature: Julie Powell
Written by: Nora Ephron
Produced by: Nora Ephron, Laurence Mark, Amy Robinson...
Running time: 123 minutes

Based on two true stories, the film follows Julie Powell (Amy Adams), an unhappy government employee who answers telephone calls from victims of the September 11 attacks, who decides to cook her way through legendary cook Julia Child's classic cookbook, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" in one year's time out of her small Queens kitchen. Powell blogs her daily experiences, gaining a loyal following along the way. The film further follows the real Julia Child (Meryl Streep) and her husband Paul (Stanley Tucci) through Julia Child's memoir and chronicles her path to become a national treasure.

Meryl Streep (Julia Child), Amy Adams (Julie Powell), Stanley Tucci (Paul Child), Chris Messina (Eric Powell), Linda Emond (Simone Beck), Helen Carey (Louise Bertholle), Mary Lynn Rajskub (Sarah), Jane Lynch (Dorothy McWilliams), Joan Juliet Buck (Madame Brassart), Crystsal Noelle (Ernestine), George Bartenieff (Chef Max Bugnard), Vanessa Ferlito (Cassie), Casey Wilson (Regina), Jillian Bach (Annabelle), Michael Brian Dunn (Ivan Cousins), Frances Sternhagen (Irma Rombauer), Deborah Rush (Avis De Voto)

More than anyone else, Julia Child steered American eaters away from the canned, the frozen and the processed and into food that was fresh, flavorful and made with unbridled joy, a wonderful metaphor for approaching life. “When you talk about passion, Julia Child didn’t just have it for her husband or cooking, she had a passion for living,” says Streep. “Real, true joie de vivre. She loved being alive, and that’s inspirational in and of itself.” A half-century later, in 2002, New Yorker Julie Powell was nearing 30, dissatisfied as a writer, and facing an emotionally depleting day job working for an organization devoted to rebuilding the World Trade Center site after 9/11 and helping displaced residents resettle. Spurred to change her life, she decided to cook her way through Child’s masterpiece – 524 recipes in 365 days – and chronicle her efforts in a blog. With the encouragement of her husband Eric—who was happy to devour the fruits of her labors. Julie began detailing the ups and downs of her time-consuming project. Today, blogging is part of the fabric of our lives, but in 2002, Powell was a blogging pioneer. And ultimately the inspiration for Nora Ephron to adapt her book into a film.

It was before I even started writing the script, when Meryl asked, ‘What are you doing?’ I said, ‘Blah, blah, Julie Powell, Julia Child, 524 recipes.’ She went into Julia as we were walking out of the theater. She did her for a full 10 seconds. I think she even said, ‘Bon appétit,’ I thought, ‘OK, look no further.’ Once ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ opened, I knew if I could get her, not only would she be the best person for it, but she would also force the studio to make the film. She was a movie star at age 57 or whatever she is. Meryl believed that in order to capture the essence of the character, you had to believe Julia Child is 6-foot-2. Actually, our ambitions were more modest. We made her 6 feet. We used a whole bunch of fabulous tricks. Everything we could think of. Ann Roth did amazing things with costumes. The performance is not an imitation, it’s more of a habitation. (Nora Ephron, USA Today, April 2009)

“When we first meet her, she and her husband Paul are living in Paris where they’ve been posted after the Second World War, trying to promote all good things American since he worked for the diplomatic corps,” says Streep. “She was very bright, but the expectations for women at that point were not necessarily to have a career and find their life’s work. But Julia was someone who had a relentless appetite and curiosity for all sorts of things, and the food that was made in American kitchens was not that inspired. She was always sort of a gourmand, but when they went to Paris they discovered food as an art form – not merely something we need for nourishment. So she went to the Cordon Bleu and learned cooking from the ground up, just took to it with relentless curiosity and invention.” Streep found a way to avoid caricature in her portrayal, with Child’s height and high-pitched voice often being impersonated.. “My out is that I’m not really ‘doing’ Julia Child, I’m Julie Powell’s idea of who she was,” says Streep. “So while I felt a responsibility to her memory and the legacy of the great work she did, and to the essence of her character, I didn’t feel I was replicating her.” When it came to casting Julie Powell, Ephron wanted an actress who could embody a young woman’s insecurities and emotional blow-ups. She knew Amy Adams was up to the task, but she also met another major requirement for the writer/director. “Among the many things I liked about her was that I believed that she was smart enough to be a writer,” says Ephron. “And she’s funny.”

“Julie & Julia” was met positively by critics and audiences alike, winning Meryl Streep another Golden Globe as Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy and earning her a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination and her career’s sixteenth Oscar nomination.

To my own surprise, I found “Julie & Julia” a very entertaining and beautiful film. Watching Meryl slipping into Julia Child’s persona and astounding to watch. The film’s plus is that Julia is shown through Julie’s imagination, so it gives all characters the freedom to entertain, while sticking to the actual facts and fights of her life. Meryl’s and Stanley Tucci’s scenes are among the most entertaining and I found Meryl’s scenes with Linda Emond (who plays her friend Simone Beck) very well done as well. Many critics have dismissed the Amy Adams scenes to be the weak link of the film. I cannot understand this. Her storyline may not be as funny as the Julia Child story, but it’s a very charming portrait surrounded by good supporting players and an admirable acting performance by Adams, who proves, once again after “Doubt”, that she might be her generation’s best actress. For Meryl, it’s another classic performance. “Julie & Julia” is very recommended.

★   Golden Globe Award – Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture (Comedy or Musical)
★   Critics Choice Award – Best Actress
★   Alliance of Women Film Journalists – Actress Defying Age and Ageism
★   Boston Society of Film Critics – Best Actress
★   Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award – Best Actress
★   Movies for Grownups Award – Best Grownup Love Story
★   New York Film Critics Circle Award – Best Actress
★   New York Film Critics Online Award – Best Actress
★   North Texas Film Critics Association – Best Actress
★   Oklahoma Film Critics Circle Award – Best Actress
★   Phoenix Film Critics Award – Best Actress
★   San Francisco Film Critics Circle – Best Actress
★   Satellite Award – Best Actress in a Comedy
★   Southeastern Film Critics Award – Best Actress
★   Women Film Critics Circle Award – Best Comedic Actress
★   Women’s Image Network Award – Outstanding Actress Feature Film
☆   Academy Award – Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
☆   Screen Actors Guild Award – Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
☆   BAFTA Film Award – Best Leading Actress
☆   Alliance of Women Film Journalists – Best Actress
☆   Alliance of Women Film Journalists – Outstanding Achievement by a Woman in the Film Industry
☆   Cinema Jupiter Award (Germany) – Best International Actress
☆   Chicago Film Critics Association Award – Best Actress
☆   Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award – Best Actress
☆   Denver Film Critics Society – Best Actress
☆   Detroit Film Critics Society Award – Best Actress
☆   Houston Film Critics Society Award – Best Actress
☆   Indiana Film Journalists Association – Best Actress
☆   International Cinephile Society Award – Best Actress
☆   London Critics Circle Film Award – Actress of the Year
☆   Movies for Grownups Award Award – Best Actress
☆   National Society of Film Critics Award – Best Actress
☆   Online Film & Television Association – Best Actress
☆   San Diego Film Critics Society Award – Best Actress
☆   St. Louis Film Critics Association – Best Actress
☆   Toronto Film Critics Association Award – Best Actress
☆   Vancouver Film Critics Circle – Best Actress
☆   Washington DC Film Critics Award – Best Actress