My Review of “Julie & Julia”

by Matt on August 6, 2009

March, 2010

JulieGraphic

Matt’s Footnote: Before you set the Snark Police on me, please know this: this reviewer adores Nora and Amy but felt the strength of the movie lies 100% with Meryl’s portrayal of Julia Child. Have a nice day.

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Cheryl Arkison August 6, 2009 at 9:25 pm

From all I’ve heard you are bang on. If you’ve read the book don’t see the movie, and vice versa. Or, in this case, if you’ve read the blog don’t see the movie.

The Italian Dish August 6, 2009 at 10:48 pm

I’m going to see the movie tonight and this is what I was afraid of.

All the clips I’ve seen so far of the movie have made me wish they could have just made a movie about Julie Child’s life. Oh, well. I still want to see it even though the parts about Julie Powell might not be as interesting. I read her book when it came out. She’s getting a lot of bashing in the blogs and media, but let’s face it – she wrote a blog/book that brought attention back to Julia Child and ultimately was the inspiration for this movie. All good.

grayelf August 7, 2009 at 12:20 am

Plus one for seeing just Julia — if you can, wait for the DVD (or download or whatever the kids are doing these days) and fast forward to Ms Streep’s scenes, especially with Stanley Tucci. I saw it at a preview screening several weeks ago and was struck by the contrast between the two story lines and not in a good way. Editing could also have been tighter but that is a smaller quibble. No idea how it compares to the book though…

Julia August 7, 2009 at 5:19 am

I’ve read the book and really really enjoyed julie’s character. I am a huge fan of reading books and then watching the movie or the other way around. Mostly because i know that they’ve changed the plot a bit, and I can say “oh well”.
But it didn’t cross my mind that they would do that with this book/movie! I hope Julie is just as much of a hysteric. That’s all i’d like, so f-ing funny. gosh.

Gabrielaskitchen August 7, 2009 at 1:50 pm

Straight to the point, Matt, well put.

I saw a midnight showing after a long day at work and a huge supper…. thank god for Meryl Streep her portrayal of Julia Childs was absolutely charming, kept my usually sleepy head wide awake!

As for Julie Powell…meh, her story just seems so ordinary, but then again maybe that was the point. Julia Childs the EXTRAORDINARY kitchen queen teaches the everywoman the art of French cuisine!

Craig August 7, 2009 at 2:01 pm

Worst suspicions confirmed. My Life in France was such a fantastic book and completely worthy of its own dedicated bio-pic. And with nothing but respect to The Italian Dish (and I am sincere in saying that, TID!), interest in Julia Child has remained consistently high since her death. Blogger Julie Powell (“Don’t call me a blogger”!) cooking from Mastering the Art of French Cooking and then documenting that experience was not about someone discovering some ancient, forgotten tome written by some unknown and altruistically sharing it with the world, it was about a gimmick, no matter what she might say, allowing her to ride to fame on that book and its author’s impressive coattails.

Anyway, the whole concept of this movie completely riles me up. It just seems so disrespectful to the bigger, more interesting story AND to the intelligence of movie-going audiences who the studio must have assumed wouldn’t be interested in a good story without making it all about “what the hip kids are getting up to online”. The movie should have been called You’ve got RSS Feed Updates… I’m going to wait for the DVD release to fall into someone’s hands who knows how to rip a version with all the Julia/Meryl bits and then will download that (and make a $10 donation to Second Harvest, of course).

Ok, end of rant. I can’t believe that all just poured out of me like that. Matt got me all excited when I saw that .jpg and then all disappointed when I realized it was just a clever mock-up.

Charmian Christie August 7, 2009 at 2:55 pm

I’m seeing this on Monday… trying not to read too much about it beforehand, but that’s IMPOSSIBLE. Are there no other movies out this summer?

The Italian Dish August 8, 2009 at 4:26 am

Well, we went and saw the movie last night. After all the reviews and articles and comments I had read about the “boring, inane Julie Powell part of the movie”, “bring a penlight and a book”, I was prepared to have to sit through that half, disinterested. Well, it wasn’t nearly as bad as the critics have made it out to be. Sure, I would have liked the whole movie to be just about Julia – I think most of us would. But Julie’s devotion to Julia and how Julia inspired her to be a better person was touching, especially at the very end scene. I thought it was a real tribute to her. Like I said before, the book she wrote inspired this movie to be made, so I don’t understand all the Julie bashing. Yes, no one ever forgot Julia Child, but an awful lot of people were inspired to pick up her book again after Julie Powell’s book came out – and some people for the first time. I ‘m just getting a little turned off by all this negativity. I was in heaven last night in the theater and I’m grateful to everyone who had a part in making this movie. Even Julie Powell.

Matt August 8, 2009 at 5:14 am

The Italian Dish,

I’m so glad you enjoyed the movie. I plan on seeing it again because it is such a wonderful escape and feel-good movie. I’ve been careful to not bash the movie nor Julie Powell because Ms. Powell has never been anything but nice to me and I really liked it. I just happen to prefer one half of the movie more than the other.

However, I can understand where the negatively comes from as she’s left some pretty pointed comments about food bloggers and blogging in general. That doesn’t mean the movie isn’t fun and delightful because it is.

Julia Hidy August 8, 2009 at 7:08 am

I’ve just finished reading Julia Child’s utterly endearing memoir, and am seventy pages into Julie Powel’s book and experiences. One needs to understand how both similar yet completely different these two women are in terms of how they used their life’s energy. Before she became Julia Child, as a registrar for a US foreign service office (and some say allegedly a spy), Julia came across as an expansive, fun, and ‘let’s grab and take in what life has to bring us’ grand dame. She hadn’t even ‘become’ Julia Child at that point. Yet she continued on with those intentions and that purring vibe throughout her highly productive and mostly joy-filled life. She simply did not know any other way to be and that’s why so many fabulous and interesting people were consistently drawn to spending time with oh so curious Julia.

When Paul Child first encountered Julia, he became mesmerized by her presence and ‘sieze the day’ attitude too. He didn’t even know her, but he went along for dinner with a group of people he didn’t even know so he could find out more about her. So many of us did the same when we followed her through any of the recipes in the pages of her divine cookery books.

Julie Powell seems to have come at life from another angle: She didn’t even want to taste her mom’s Julia-inspired Boeuf Bourguingnon one Christmas, carrots, nor even eggs prior to her trying to blog about them. And yet, it was that same recipe that she made for her husband that was part of her first blog energy.

But at least Julie had the inspiration and resulting sticktuitiveness to see if she could possibly get through cooking all of Julia Child’s recipes in one year. Realize that back then, who knew what kind of things could even happen to a blogger. The term ‘popular blogger’ was still an oxymoron in all but the most tech saavvy circles. Still, Julie decided to raise her life out of a very mundane work-a-day-world existence and shared her heady experiences with people she didn’t even know, and in a technology format she had no idea would receive much, if any, response from anyone. Kudos to Powell for having the guts to live a little more and break out of her own thick shell.

Even greater kudos to Powell for having kept going and done something that she could easily have stopped or given up on at any juncture that first year. I’m quite sure that if she hadn’t, she’d still be a secretarial temp mentality kinda gal and wondering why life had passed her by instead of becoming a best selling author, inspiration for a major budget film, and who knows what else.

One woman’s depth of character, unfettered joie de vivre, tenacity for loving live and lovingly working on an amazing book for nine years with barely a dollar of remuneration and without even public feedback or encouragement inspired another woman (and how many countless others in the past 40 years) to get out of her take out, “I don’t know what to do for dinner again” rut. Powell’s life was touched by Julia’s genius and thus her gray and likely self-inflammatory thoughts stopped long enough to get her out from her drone of an existence for yet another day. And she did this for an entire year. Thus, Julie Powell knew what it was like to, and did climb out of her own depths to transcend the ordinary. Think about where Julie Powell would be now had she not dug in, reached out and found those marrow bones of life? She would have continued to be a damn bored, even more boring person. Who knows what secretarial cubical she would have still been occupying now. But whatever the movie is or isn’t, it’s an inspiring story worth genuinely considering and incorporating whatever we can into our our own lives.

We can all draw and synthesize a great deal of inspiration from both women. That’s what makes this story so compelling and worthwhile. I can hardly wait to see what happens on screen! And no, I won’t wait for the DVD. Why deprive myself of seeing all those incredible scenes from France blown up to gargantuan cinematic proportions in front of my face on the big screen? I bet you can almost smell the cheese in those omlettes cooking!!! No, I won’t wait for the DVD…I, too, want to (and try to ) live my life with vim now, and with the type of optimism and presence that Julia Child exuded and shared with us all. Plus, I adore seeing a well-done feel-good movie. This Julia can hardly wait to see what her namesakes have gotten up to. (Apologies for such a long post; guess I’m passionate about this…)

Robin August 8, 2009 at 12:41 pm

I’m agree. Julie P. is there, I suppose, to make the point that even today Julia continues to inspire and raise the bar for rather ordinary home cooks. I was never moved to buy Julie’s book or read her blog. As in the movie, I didn’t find her to be particularly interesting. But, after seing this movie, I will definitely pick up Julia’s My Life in France.
And, Meryl has just outdone herself. Delightful, delicious, de-lovely! And her scenes with Stanley Tucci? YUM!!!

Julia Hidy August 8, 2009 at 1:54 pm

p.s. Just saw the movie, and I unabashedley loved it.

Natalie August 8, 2009 at 10:19 pm

I’ve just seen it.. it was a bit on the long side … but Meryl Streep was superb :)

Romney (Nani) Steele August 9, 2009 at 10:40 am

Have yet to see it, but almost not fair to hold the two characters to the same standard. Julia Child was extraordinary-we know it, and her book My Life in France is just fabulous! As for Julie-hers is a modern, almost made for Hollywood story, but I give her kudos for doing what she did–I mean, really-who in their right mind would cook every recipe from Julia’s tomb, and in one year? A feat in itself.

Kary Gonyer August 9, 2009 at 1:40 pm

I’ll keep this short…..Just give me….JULIA

Kary

Shauna from Piece of Cake August 9, 2009 at 5:02 pm

I think it should have been two completely different movies. A whole biopic with Meryl as Julia sounds heavenly. And with the number of obsessive food bloggers growing, that demographic alone might make the box office for a Julie Powell movie, doncha think?

Either way, your sense of humor rocks my world. Every. Time.

Amanda August 9, 2009 at 6:21 pm

My sister and I just returned from seeing Julie and Julia, and after reading these comments, which I avoided until I’d seen it myself, I feel sad. I laughed during the movie, and was moved by the contrast in the two stories….and can certainly see myself in Julie. Her story is different from Julia, but I don’t think that makes it any less human or interesting. I agree that Meryl did a fantastic job portraying Julia, and for a book made into a movie, I was pleasantly surprised.

mattatouille August 10, 2009 at 12:45 am

I just came back from watching the movie. Meryl Streep is simply amazing.

Jen August 10, 2009 at 5:37 am

I have to agree with The Italian Dish. I saw the movie last night and it was very poignant for me. I lived in London as an expat with my husband following him for his job. I went to the Cordon Bleu much like Julia did trying to find myself. In a way, I started blogging like Julie these days as a continuation of that. Meryl Streep was truly amazing and brought to life the character of Julia. Yes, that was the more intriguing part of the movie but I think it unfair to bash Julie for her role in the story. I don’t think she set out to create a “gimmick” and reach stardom on someone else’s coattails. Like many of us women out there who have been attempting to find our way, Julie was looking for something more in her life. She found it through this journey and I applaud her for that. Obviously, this struck a cord with me in a very different way than it did for the commenter Craig.

Alex August 10, 2009 at 11:24 am

Loved Meryl as Julia. As a young foodie I grew up watching Julia on PBS. “The French Chef “came on right after Sesame Street, so I started appreciating food as a very young viewer. As a chef, writer and cooking teacher I am inspired by her legacy. I beleive in destiny and know that I will make my mark in the culinary world… soon! We both are leos, in fact Julia’s birthday was August 15th, mine the 16th. I know there is some truth to “faith in the stars”. That along with hardwork, a creative spirit and not taking no for answer are the things that keep me focused and determined each day… thank you Julia for your fiesty spirit and your culinary endeavors.

Martha August 10, 2009 at 8:32 pm

It’s simply “all good”!

summer August 11, 2009 at 9:36 am

I was kind of sad about the movie myself. All of Julie’s BITE was gone. But I guess I kind of expected that. From watching the commercials, I could tell that Amy Adams, as much as I love her, seem too much of a Pollyanna for the “Julie” I related to from the book. But the real fault for that lies with the screenplay.
Oh well, I did really LOVE the other half of the movie. Who can knock Julia’s great line about the hot pasta straight from the boiling water?

j.cro August 12, 2009 at 11:42 am

I specifically read My Life in France and then Julie & Julia as soon as I heard this movie was coming out. My Life in France is an INCREDIBLE book!!! Julia Child is uproariously funny. Julie Powell on the other hand, well – she was a little bit whiny, which she admits to herself. Still, the concept of what she did was pretty interesting and kudos to her for turning her blog into something much bigger for herself.

I saw the movie last night and laughed so, so much. If Meryl Streep doesn’t win every accolade out there for her portrayal of Julia Child then those decision makers are blind, deaf and stupid. Not dumb, but actually stupid. I thought Amy Adams did a great job portraying Julie Powell and the intertwining story lines came off really well. I don’t care, I loved the movie and I can’t wait for it to come out on DVD so I can watch it whenever I want.

Mark August 13, 2009 at 7:49 am

I saw this movie not having read the book and only having a overview of the story. I have to admit it that can’t be so kind, they should have dropped the Julie part and just continued on with the wonderful story of Julia.

If I was not so involved with the food world and bloggers, I might have felt very differently and thought is was an overall entertaining movie. But, alas, it seemed very week given all the wonderful stories that could have connected food blogging with the rest of the world… Ouch! Sounding like sour-grapes on this one, but I just don’t think we should sugar-coat the weakness of the Julie character in light of the fascinating story of Julia Child.

I think will have to see it again with someone who has little knowledge of either character and see what they think of it… might be a little more fair to the work as a whole.

wasabi prime August 13, 2009 at 8:49 pm

Agreed, Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci stole the show. I still love Julie Powell because I read the book years ago and loved how real and honest she was with her own experiences, and the movie only touched on that aspect. Maybe Nora Ephron can retell the story through Julia Child’s own memoirs, and just recast with the same actors!

june2 August 14, 2009 at 4:47 pm

I agree with Julia Hidy above. In Julie’s blog we all KNEW she was at a super low point in her life and not at her best. She never, heh, tried to gloss over that. I think what she did was remarkable. I mean, who looks good even on paper when they’re trying keep from being swallowed alive in an office cubicle and an otherwise grim existance? The disregard Julia Child expressed was unfortunate and so relative. I agree that Julie does come off as horribly whiny and pitiful for most of her blog, but again – we knew up front where she was at emotionally.

Though it’s something to strive for, not everyone is as strong of character as Julia Childs appears to have been, esp. in the low moments. She was iconic in that way and it led to her success. And she had an AWESOME husband who believed in her fully. That’s a huge advantage.

Angie D in Ohio August 29, 2009 at 9:36 am

I loved this movie…. especially the Julia Child experience in France. Julia Child was so passionate about french cooking and getting all the recipes right. In reading the book My Life in France, you discover Julia’s sense of humor and passion. This is definitely a feel good movie…. and you simply must go see it.

Chris Flett September 4, 2009 at 7:58 am

I started the book and couldn’t get into it. I was thinking twice about seeing the movie. I found that it was an off/on switch. When Julia (Meryl) was on, I was mesmorized. When Julie (Amy) was on, I was holding my breath willing the movie to go back in time to the parts of Julia being in France. An okay movie that would have been great IF it had stayed with Julia the whole time.

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