Julie & Julia Review: Nouveau Cinema
Although I have a soft spot for food, writing and relationships, the prospect of a film that combined the three subjects didn’t seem that appetising.
But it’s great when a menu deviation gives you a pleasant surprise and Nora Ephron has measured the ingredients of this movie expertly – it is a quiet gem.
Meryl Streep comfortably steals the show with her deliciously eccentric portrayal of Julia Child – the woman who introduced an apathetic America to nouveau cuisine – and she has an effective foil in Amy Adams who plays an aspiring writer from New York.
It will not be everyone’s slice of cake, but there is certainly something here for most people to get their teeth into.
The picture opens as Child arrives in Paris with her husband Paul (played by Stanley Tucci who recreates his notable chemistry with Streep from Devil Wears Prada) and decides to attend a french cooking class for ‘something to do’.
Her fierce dedication helps her make quick progress and the amusing montages begin to flow – in one charming scene she hones her chopping skills by slicing up a small mountain of onions, to the annoyance of her husband.
In a 2002 Manhattan, an equally frustrated Julie Powell tries to escape her boredom by blogging about her attempt to create all 524 recipes from Child’s iconic cookbook in just one year.
As the story switches between the two eras, our affection grows for both characters and the husbands who support and inspire them.
However, as good as it is, Adams’ performance as a modern woman searching for inspiration is staple fare nowadays. The magic of this recipe comes from Streep as she captures every scene with her fluting exasperations, and through no fault of the cast, she carries the movie to an extent.
This may be a little unfair on Amy Adams as she does not put in an especially weak performance – she is simply dazzled by an old hand at the top of her game.