Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews
- Category: Jacqueline Monahan
- Published on 25 August 2009
- Written by Jacqueline Monahan
Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an English tutor for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also a consultant for Columbia College Chicago in Adjunct Faculty Affairs
Julie & Julia
This is a film that will make you want to eat. It will tease your taste buds with fond reminisces of butter and beef, which fill up page after page of a landmark cookbook written years before either of the two came under fire for arterial damage. This is a tale of two women, living in two cities in different decades, united by an appreciation for the elegance and sophistication of French cuisine.
When Queens resident Julie Powell (Amy Adams), a city employee assisting 9/11 victims, finds herself in a rut, she begins a blog chronicling the ambitious undertaking of preparing all 542 recipes that comprise the definitive Mastering the Art of French Cooking tome that iconic TV chef Julia Child co-authored with Simone Beck (Linda Emond) and Louisette Bertholle (Helen Carey). Julie has given herself exactly one year to complete it.
As for Julia Child, (Meryl Streep) the film chronicles her post-war years living in Paris, loving the cuisine, charming the merchants, and enrolling as the sole (meaning “only,” not the fish) woman in the legendary cooking school Le Cordon Bleu. The indefatigable Child chops, sautés, and flips her way through French cuisine, an all-male domain at the time.
Alternating scenes in the lives of the two women, the film draws parallels to their challenges. Julie’s marriage to husband Eric (Chris Messina) becomes strained as her blog becomes an obsession. Julia attempts hat making and bridge before finding her true passion in cooking. Julie is having trouble with aspic. Julia’s husband Paul, (Stanley Tucci) is having trouble with Senator Joseph McCarthy.
The two women give dinner parties, experience culinary and personal highs and lows, and revel in the quality, texture and magnificence of food. Both of their stories eventually lead them to acclaim. Julia’s occurs when she finally gets her cookbook published; Julie’s happens when her blog nears completion and she is approached by literary agents and editors eager for the story of her year-long adventure.
Meryl Streep is charm personified as the literally larger than life Julia Child, tall and imposing. Although Streep is nowhere near six feet tall, the actress’s innate talent alone can summon up an Amazonian performance, full of humor and wit.
Amy Adams’ Julie is as sweet and appealing as one of the chocolate cake recipes she bakes and eagerly consumes using her hands as utensils. Adams is perfect at conveying the humor, disappointment, despair and joy that Julie mixes, folds, and bakes into her life.
Stanley Tucci portrays Julia’s husband Paul as affectionate, indulgent, infinitely patient, and devoted. It doesn’t matter that he’s several inches shorter than she is. Who isn’t?
Butter is its own star, and great yellow bricks of it are incorporated into main dishes and eaten with abandon. Did you know that Hollandaise sauce is mostly made up of the stuff? It’s the medical/culinary equivalent of sealing one’s aorta with Krazy Glue, but oh, the glory of drowning a pair of Eggs Benedict in all of its sinful succulence.
Writer/director Nora Ephron (Bewitched) never allows the action get sappy or self-pitying. Everything is fun or exasperating, a blast or a bombshell, but each of the ladies carries on the fight despite enormous odds. There are no weaklings here. Ducklings, yes, one of which Julie debones in a final triumphant flourish. Well, it was really a full grown duck, but I like the wordplay.
Julie & Julia leaves a good taste in your mouth, and the flavor is French. You’ll forgive the gastronomic decadence as you exit from theater to restaurant on a quest for Boeuf Bourguignon, even if you can’t pronounce it.