I’m no film critic, thank goodness, so these occasional looks at food based films will be brief, opinionated and clumsy, if not inept.
“Julie and Julia” is notable for being one of the first blog-derived movies, ‘Julia’ being cookery writer Julia Child and ‘Julie’ being the blogger Julie Powell, who set out to blog her attempt to cook all 524 recipes in Child’s “Mastering The Art Of French Cooking” in one year, 40 years after the book’s publication.
As it turns out “Mastering The Art Of French Cooking” was co-written by Child and two frenchwomen, one of whom was dropped from ‘the team’ for reasons which are only hinted at in the film. In fact several elements of Child’s life and career are hinted at but not explored. Frustrating.
She and her husband worked with the OSS, a precursor to the CIA, in WW2, but not as ‘spies’ – they were part of a team based in Ceylon/Sri Lanka working on a shark repellent for Allied mines.
The couple were famously ribald and uncommonly, for the time, open about sex and sexuality – this again is only alluded to in the movie.
The film attempts to draw parallels between the two women, apart from the cookery book/blog connection, the most obvious being food as salvation from dull, mundane lives for them both, something I certainly relate to and which the film handles well. Less successful is the attempt to equate the McCarthy trials with the attack on the Twin Towers (9/11) – the backlash to McCarthy giving rise to a new liberalism in the US, whereas 9/11 has led that nation to resemble a frightening hybrid of the McCarthy era States and the ’50s USSR in less than 10 years. A tragic victory for Al-Qaeda, perhaps.
Ultimately, the Julia scenes are the more convincing, with Meryl Streep, bodysnatcher that she is, becoming Child rather than acting the role of Child. Quite a performance.
Watch the Julia Child TV show I’ve embedded above and the movie and you will agree.
I found “Julie and Julia” entertaining, the food and cookery were handled well, but it is hardly a great film. Worth watching if you have an interest in cooking.
The youtube clip below is of Powell reading from her sexually explicit essay “Lost In Space.”