Monday, 19 October 2009


Now Showing
Sony Pictures

If like me you had never heard of Julia Child before the arrival of this film, then you will likely associate her forever more with Meryl Streep. Child, the woman hailed for bringing French cooking into the kitchens of America with her book and TV show, is so specifically rendered in the extremely talented actor's portrayal - is there nothing Ms Streep cannot do? - that if Julia Child is nothing like her on-screen version (and you could probably find out for yourself on YouTube) then I don't want to know about it.

Writer-director Nora Ephron's film unfortunately is not devoted entirely to Streep's Julia Child but rather attempts to tell parallel stories: the writing of Child's infamous Mastering The Art of French Cooking in post-World War II Paris, and that of Julie Powell (Amy Adams), a civil servant in post-911 New York who set herself the challenge of cooking all 500-plus recipes in Child's tome in one year and recording her successes and failures in a blog.

Bored with her domestic life after serving for US intelligence during the war, Julia Child looks for projects to fill her days. With the encouragement of her husband (Stanley Tucci, who gave Streep solid support in The Devil Wears Prada and does so once again), she decides on learning to cook French cuisine, after all she loves to eat, and she takes to it like a duck to a l'orange. It is these scenes of the film which are full of life and vigour; when Streep is on screen the film soars.

That Adams' scenes are less engaging is no fault of her own. This talented young actress, star of such wonderful fare as Enchanted and Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day, and Oscar-nominated for Junebug and Doubt, where she first played opposite Streep, brings her comic sensibility and her natural likability to the role of Powell. But whenever we cut back to her, in her huddled apartment with her more-than-accommodating husband (Chris Messina), having spent time with Meryl in Paris, you can't help but feel like a guest at a dinner party who knows there's another, more vibrant dinner party with a richer menu happening across town.

Meryl Streep is the guest of honour and main course in the dinner party that is Julie & Julia. When she's not on screen you can't wait for her to come back, with her hors d'oeuvre and her sparkle.


  1. Delightfully fulfilling! There is nothing Streep cannot do... well except for a French accent. :)

  2. How wonderful is she?! I'm pretty sure Oscar nomination #16 will come for this. Re: French accent: Streep did star in a film called The French Lieutenant's Wife, but I'm not sure if she played a French woman? If she used an accent, my guess is she nailed it! Tre bien!

  3. Correction: Film is called The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981), also starring Jeremy Irons.