Film: Julie & Julia

Cast includes: Meryl Streep (The Devil Wears Prada), Amy Adams (Doubt), Stanley Tucci (The Devil Wears Prada), Chris Messina (Vicky Cristina Barcelona)
Direction/screenplay: Nora Ephron (You’ve Got Mail)
Genre: Comedy/drama, biography, food

In brief: Julie Powel needs to jumpstart her floundering career. In desperation, she decides to pursue a passion and blog about it. She sets herself a goal of completing all 524 recipes in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in just 365 days. Not only is the goal daunting, the failures are publicly humiliating as she blogs about them. The film masterfully interweaves the stories of Julia Child’s cookbook years with Julie Powell’s yearlong project.

While most of us know Julia more from her cooking shows than her cookbook, the movie focuses on the years before Julia became Julia, the TV star. We see clips from the shows, but for the most part, we’re watching the lovable but pre-famous Julia. As you can tell from the trailers, the movie is funny and fun. You’ll be pleasantly surprised, however, to know that the trailer doesn’t give away all the best parts… there are plenty of great scenes. And there’s a love story, too. It’s a very rare kind of love story of two couples staying in love despite many challenges.

The development of this film was almost a cosmic event. It started with two books, the Julia Child autobiography and Julie Powell’s memoir. The third ingredient was Nora Ephron’s screenplay and direction. As a well-known and passionate foodie, Ephron was able to bring joy to the two stories. Meryl Streep’s performance may well earn her another Oscar. It’s so good, in fact, that some may wish the movie were about Julia only. But the Julie story keeps Julia’s story moving forward despite many long years of struggling to get the cookbook written and published. Like an exceptional meal, there are many varied and delicious parts… from the appetizer (cobb salad without eggs) to dessert (a pound of butter).

popcorn rating

4 popped kernels

Popped kernels for the excellent script, production and acting. Meryl is amazing.

Transforming Meryl into Julia

Julia Child was famous for her height… 6’2” at a time when that was considered very tall, even for a man. Meryl Streep is barely 5’6”… just average. Many will be surprised to know that computer effects were not used to make Meryl tall. The filmmakers used nothing more than the age-old filmmaking tricks for making a star appear to be taller. The custom-made interiors were shot at Silvercup Studios in Queens. Camera angles, lifts and “apple crates” are some other common techniques. But Meryl as Julia had to appear as more than just tall… she had to look oversized. Meryl Streep’s acting is the most important special effect of all.


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