Julie & Julia (2009)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Julie & Julia</strong> (2009)

(In-flight, November 2009) Nora Ephron’s films are generally amiable and unobjectionable, but after a short absence from the big-screen, it’s good to see her move slightly-away from romantic comedies to tackle a film about cooking, blogging and female empowerment.  The twin true stories of Julia Child (who, in the fifties, popularized French cuisine in America) and Julie Powell (who, nearly fifty years later, took on the project to cook her way through Child’s first book in a year and blog about the experience), Julie & Julia is perhaps most enjoyable as the journey of two foodies.  It’s practically impossible to sit through the film and not be shamed into becoming a better cook.  Food remains the film’s love interest even as various romantic subplots are weaved in the narrative.  The film’s biggest problem is that its two true stories don’t necessarily intersect with grace (although there are a few nice transitions) and that the conclusion feels a bit flat: There are no big dramatic finales built into the true events that inspired Julie & Julia, and some of the most intriguing elements of the story (such as Child’s lack of affection for Julie’s blog) are not necessarily explored.  More happily, it’s striking that the best depiction of a blogger so far in mainstream American cinema (what motivates them, the challenges they face, the thrills of being read) has been in a fluffy food romance.  Who would have thought?  Otherwise, there’s little to dislike in Julie & Julia: maybe a sense of material not being fully exploited, but the funny moments, another great performance by Meryl Streep and food-friendly atmosphere usually compensate for those.

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