Julie & Julia: The Joy of Relationships

Butter, butter, and more butter melts it’s way into the luscious dishes cooked by the two main characters, Julia Child and Julie Powell in Nora Ephron’s new movie, Julie & Julia.  Ephron expertly blends two books: My Life in France by Julie Child and Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Kitchen Apartment by Julie Powell into a most satisfying movie. Food – the buying, creating and sharing of it are central to the movie but relationships are the backbone of the story.  The movie  traces the lives of both women as they find their purpose in life.  Julia Child found her bliss during  a diplomatic  posting in France with her devoted husband Paul: the pleasure of cooking and eating delicious food.   She began a 6-month course of study at the Cordon Bleu cooking school,  supplementing this instruction with private lessons from master chef Max Bugnard.  Her passion and commitement to teaching American women how to cook authentic French food – those without servants – lead her to open a cooking school with two colleagues and then to collaborate with them on the definitive cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  Beside her during this journey is her intelligent, delightful husband Paul who encourages and inspires her undertaking.  It’s the same for Julie Powell, but not quite as idealized – her marriage feels more “real” to me.   Eric sets up Julie’s blog, enthusiastically eats all of her dishes at 10 p.m (or later) every evening and even gives her a dose of reality when Powell needs it most.  On the Powell side of the movie there are melt-downs in her tiny Queens kitchen, arguments, and accusations of narcissim from said husband, but in the end Eric is there to celebrate with Julie the conclusion of The Julie/Julia project and her development as a writer.    

I have read Julie Powell’s memoir and found it completely enjoyable.  I’m from Jersey and cursing is a birthright in the Garden State.  However, if you don’t relish profanities ladled into every other sentence be forewarned – Julie Powell enjoys a choicely placed curse word.   It’s a hilarious, yet captivating read about a married woman with a full-time job, committed to making her way through each of these elaborate 524 recipes.  Yes, it’s insane, but interesting – and that’s why The Project spawned a book and a movie. 

Julie & Julia is sublime.  Meryl Streep is Meryl Streep and by that I mean she is effortless.  She embodies Julia Child and is fearless and charming as she joins the all-male Cordon Bleu classes; and poignant as she longs for the child she and Paul never conceive.  But the way their love for one another is portrayed leaves me breathless.  Amy Adam portrays Julie Powell as a woman on the verge of 30, who is searching for a direction in life. She is confused, passionate and a little on the edge – which of course, makes her character captivating to watch.  She isn’t an adorable woman (so unlike other Amy Adam roles)  and her movie best friend lovingly tells her she is a “bitch.”  It’s a fun, intelligent movie (it’s Ephron for goodness sake), and I highly recommend you take your best friend to go see it with you.  Bon Appetit.

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