Savory performances give zing to “Julia & Julie”
With a body of work second to none in craftsmanship and sheer entertainment value, it’s time for a tribute to Meryl Streep including some recommendations of her films you might have missed. More on that in a few paragraphs.
For now we can enjoy Streep’s scrumptious performance as Julia Child in “Julie and Julia” a tasty film about and for people who are passionate about food. This kind of film should teach you something about the art of cooking and make you hungry. “Julie & Julia” does both and the results, while not overpowering are sweet and succulent.
The “Julie” in the title refers to real life writer Julie Powell (Amy Adams) who was approaching 30 with dred while sitting in her cubicle, Ground Zero within eye sight fielding phone calls from cranky customers at a Manhatten rebuilding project. Neither was she thrilled when her husband (Chris Messina) convinces her to move to Queens above a Pizzaria. Julie’s brainstorm is to prepare each and every one of Julia Child’s 524 recipes from her seminal cookbook “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” and blog about her experiences over the course of a year. This gives her purpose and rewards her husband with ample amounts of exotic cuisine; not without some heartburn, both digestive and marital.
The real joy of this film can be found in Streep’s jovial turn as the spectaculary tall (neatly recreated here) and warlby voiced matron who picked up the cooking hobby later in life while living with her doting husband (marvelously touching Stanley Tucci) in late 40’s Paris.
The film bounces back and forth between the two “J’s” and their particular eras (Post WWII France has a hypnotic power all its own) as we watch the matronly Julia tackle the obstacles of the famous Cordon Bleu school for chefs while the affable Julie contends with burning the “boeuf bourguignon” meant for a special guest.
Easily one of Director/Writer Nora Ephron’s (“Sleepless in Seattle”) most fulfilling works, the film succeeds as a tribute to strong women pursuing their dreams with loving husbands who endeavor to relish every bite. Adams (“Enchanted,” “Miss Pettigrew Lives for A Day”) glows as always despite her unadorned role and looks to follow in Streep’s incomparable shadow.
With over 70 films behind her, Streep, the most Oscar nominated actor ever continues to get better with age. She can almost win you over when she’s miscast (“Mamma Mia”) be compelling in average films (“Dark Matter”) and knock you out when given a great script (“Doubt”). And that’s just in one year (2008) of work! Revisit her amazing early career triumphs (“Kramer vs. Kramer,” “Sophie’s Choice,” or “Silkwood”), but don’t overlook some underrated gems like “Defending Your Life” and “Prime.”
Rated PG-13 for brief strong language and some sensuality.