Julie & Julia
by Sawyer J. Lahr
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Nora Ephron finds her new Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal, casting Amy Adams and Eric Messina in the foodflick Julie & Julia. A romantic lead is not the typical Amy Adams part nor is it for Meryl Streep, but the way their characters’ parallel stories are told, Julie Powell (Adams) almost romances the other, idolizing the great author/cook/television personality, Julia Child (Streep). Streep captures the quirky nuances and warbling voice of the eager novice turned master of French cooking and former office supervisor in what is now known as the CIA. Julie & Julia behaves like the 2002 film the Hours (also staring Streep), weaving two stories in different periods between 1948 and 2003, ending with life-changing successes of these relentlessly determined women.
Period French interiors background this autobiographical film based on the real Julie Powell’s blog (2002-2003) and Julia Child’s autobiography, My Life in France (2006). Julie’s story starts out in her newly rented studio apartment with her husband above a pizzeria in Queens, while Julia and her husband Paul Child (Stanley Tucci) move to 1940s Paris where Paul, a war office architect is transferred to his new post in the diplomatic corps after WWII. Back in NYC, the maladjusted Julie takes insurance claims from the relatives of 911 survivors from her in her cubicle in downtown Manhattan. She is reminded of the tragedy every morning before stepping out of the Wall St. Subway station to see the makeshift memorial honoring lost loved ones outside Trinity Church. Ephron respects the victims and spares the audience another rehash of the events yet comments on inhuman insurance company policies that an empathetic human being like Julie subverts in order to get coverage for a person with lungs afflicted by the Trade Center soot.
What she doesn’t make in money, she makes up for in the reward of a good deed, but this isn’t enough for Julie just as being a housewife wasn’t good enough for Julia Child. While Child’s husband is away at the US Embassy in Paris, Julia finds that cooking classes at the famous Le Cordon Bleu satisfy her hunger for food and her ambition. Adams again plays a woman determined to prove herself; this time, by cooking all 524 recipes in 365 days while blogging about it. Like Carey Bradshaw’s column Sex and the City, Julie’s blog becomes how she reflects on her life. Much more than the challenge, it is an outlet for her writer’s voice.
Sawyer J. Lahr is Chief Editor of the forthcoming online publication, Go Over the Rainbow. He also writes a monthly film column for Mindful Metropolis, a conscious living magazine in Chicago, IL.
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