Saturday, October 10, 2009

Julie & Julia

You're Dinner

Watching this film made me want to pick up proper cooking, in whipping up some gastronomical delights to satisfy tastebuds, and what better way to bond with friends than over a delicious meal? Of course this wasn't the ambition of Julie Powell (Amy Adams) or Julia Child (Meryl Streep), two real life characters in which this film adopted from, where their passion stemmed from, well, boredom and the desire to occupy their time with something.

It may be a gimmick to think how these 2 true stories got weaved together into one film, but truth be told they're as distinct as can be, although director-screenwriter Nora Ephron managed to draw a number of parallels in events between Julie and Julia's life, from their moving of residences, to the search for their calling in order to avoid idle days and empty dreams. It's also easy to dismiss this as a chick flick, but there are a lot more going for this film, in its rather positive outlook thanks to Julia Child, and that underdog finding its big time and 15 minutes worth of fame in Julie Powell.

While I could identify with Julie Powell in her need to find an outlet to get away from what you do all day (hence similar rationales for the creation of a site like this one), I thought Julia Child's story was more entertaining, especially with Meryl Streep fleshing out the delightful role with camera angles and shoes bringing out that giant of a character in her, and that undeniable, distinct accent to mimic what the real McCoy would have sounded like. Her struggles too against some impossible odds (working in a male-dominated profession, having the school mistress hate you, etc) was something you'd root for her to win, thanks to her infectious can-do, fearless attitude, something which we can all take away from.

Amy Adams' star continues on its meteoric rise to fame, and while both Adams and Streep has crossed swords before in Doubt, here they share the marquee but spend all their time apart in their respective time-lines, so while Adams still managed to hold her own, it's still the veteran who comes out tops given her more interesting, positive looking role versus the relatively self-centered one in Powell's characterization. Adams' role also had shades of her previous one in Sunshine Cleaning, where the protagonist felt a little embarrassed to share with her peers what she is currently up to, which led to a leap of faith in a change of career/after-work plan which probably turned out to be the best thing in her life as far as the boosting of self-esteem goes.

Credit also has to be extended to the supporting characters with Stanley Tucci and Chris Messina playing the Child and Powell spouses respectively. Fans of The Devil Wears Prada would recognize the former who had played a role opposite Streep, and here they share the same screen again. The men provides that warm body for the leads to bounce off ideas, seek affirmation and encouragement, and basically form the crux of their support pillar, though for the case of the Powells, a reminder that sometimes sarcasm goes unappreciated and can be the root of problems.

524 recipes in 365 days. While I know I'm not insane enough to do that, the film has indeed piqued my interest to take a peek at Julia Child's magnum opus cook book the next time I step into a book store. As for the film, it's a straightforward crowd pleaser and unabashed starring vehicle for fans of the two actresses.

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