Let me begin by dropping a few hints on why I may possibly have liked this movie. It has food. And blogging. And women reclaiming their aspirations in life. There you go, that’s a pretty irresistible cocktail to me!
Julie & Julia is a movie that revolves around the two central characters: Julia Child & Julie Powell. While I happened to just stumble into this watch because of Netflix, I realized only later that these women are actually real. Julia Child is a legendary American cookbook writer who made French cooking easy enough to be brought into regular American households. Her book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, is almost textbook for those looking for deconstructed & simplified French Cuisine. And Julie Powell is an American girl next door who decided she needed to embrace her love for cooking and started a blog where she documented her progress on a challenge she set for herself: recreating all of Julia Child’s 524 recipes from the book. Julie, in fact, even published a book on her experience: Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen.
The movie weaves through the stories of Julia and Julie, alternating between the two women and their generations. Julia’s Paris of the 1950s is a place that bustles with people and food, and Julia feels an instant connect. Her love for their food is evident at every bite and soon she feels she is already French! A woman with incredible enthusiasm and a zest for life, Julia finally begins to feel boredom set in and realizes she needs to find something ‘to do’ while her husband is away the entire day, busy with government work. After dabbling in hat-making and bridge lessons as most woman did around her, Julia finally embraces the fact that she is most happy when around food, and decides to join cooking classes. She is first assigned to a beginner’s class teaching how eggs must be boiled, and when she approaches the coordinator to put her into an advanced class, she is met with the comment ‘But it is for professionals, which you will never be I’m sure. It’s all men’! In her usual positive spirit she joins the class, the only woman there and is looked down upon by her peers on day 1 when she doesn’t know how to cut onions right. She goes back home, and cuts a pile of onions all evening and the next day she beats them all at it. That is Julia Child for you– absolutely passionate and competitive! This particular bit hit me so hard, inspired me so much that I watched it on loop! Talk about a woman, in that age, working hard to be taken seriously in a world of men!
Many years and miles apart, Julie Powell is stuck in a government job while her friends are in coveted positions, famous and/or rich! Living in a tiny apartment that she just cannot bring herself to love, she finds solace in her kitchen where she whips up, almost unknowingly, delicious food for her husband. As she descends into depression over where her life is going, she turns to her passion for support with her forever-inspiration-and-love Julia Child as the invisible mentor whispering tips and tricks into her ear. She challenges herself to recreate all of Julia’s 524 French recipes in 325 days! Julie’s emotions at every stage are so human and relatable that you almost find yourself willing her to make it happen! To document her progress, Julie creates her blog where every success and disaster is sent out into ’a great void’. She frets when some recipes fail, curling into a ball on the floor of the kitchen lamenting on her life. Frustrated each time her mother calls asking her to give up this mad mission, she wonders if anyone even reads what she writes. They do. And slowly she begins to reach that positive place in her mind, where she knows she has it in her to make things happen.
Julie & Julia is a superb movie. It is a movie that takes you through trials, tribulations, determinations, setbacks and victories. It is a movie with real people and real emotions. Be it Julia’s meticulous process year after year in the preparation of that perfect cookbook and her struggles to get it published, or Julie’s constant efforts to believe in herself, or even their husbands, who stand beside them like rocks, urging them to go on, this movie not only wills you to follow your passions with all your heart, it also fills you with hope! While both Meryl Streep and Amy Adams are very convincing in their roles, Meryl Streep is unimaginably good as Julia. Her voice, her body language, her expressions…she is a completely different woman in the movie!
A wonderful movie bringing together the lives of two women driven by their passion to find within themselves their true identities, Julie & Julia is a must watch!