D/W: Nora Ephron. DP: Stephen Goldblatt. Starring: Meryl Streep/Amy Adams/Stanley Tucci/Chris Messina/Linda Edmond/Mary Lyn Rajskub/Jane Lynch. (Note: Based on Julie Powell’s book of the same name and Julia Child and Alex Prud’homme’s book, “My Life in France”).
One point for the blogasphere! This first feature film about blogging follows a hapless woman’s cooking inspiration into the computer and into her life. And look, she even scored a book deal from it…there is hope!
Well-known writer, director and producer, Nora Ephron’s, newest venture joins her catalog of hits and misses, a list that clearly indicates her talents as a writer outweigh her talents as a director. But this film should be placed in the middle of this list. Julie & Julia joins this nebulous middle area with Ephron’s conventional romantic comedy genre films that provide entertainment, but don’t deliver anything entirely fresh. And fresh is what Ephron attempts to do here, and does at moments, but can never really provide a focus for her dual-narrative that relies entirely on the talent of one Meryl Streep.
Streep’s Julia is full of restrained vivaciousness with a touch of grace and spice that brings the cooking sensation alive in Streep’s own way. The chemistry between her and husband, Paul (Tucci), is palpable and is developed enough to engage the audience in the narrative, without distracting from it. Adams’ Julie is not a match for the French cooking master’s vivid character and the Julie storyline is not a match for Miss Adams. Having already established herself as a clever, engaging young actor, Adams’ is forced to pout, vex and mope for a good two hours. And poor Eric (Messina) is given little more to do than react to Adams and remain underdeveloped within their relationship. Leaving one to wait for Streep’s scenes while privately plotting what you will be eating once the film ends.
However, despite Ms. Streep’s usual excellence Julie & Julia ends flatly, without any climax or even a crescendo in the narrative. Drama or trauma is not necessary, but the film leaves you wondering what was left out. The structure of the film is refreshing as it is not a typical biopic form since it allows the audience to see the aftermath and influence of the biopic subject on our modern culture and consciousness. But even Miss Adam’s can’t save her storyline from being well, boring, and merely padding between Streep’s scenes.
And yet the film’s focus on food, the joy and focus that can be achieved from cooking is inspiration, especially in the age of microwaves and fast food. So, if anything, get yourself to the kitchen, turn on Julia and have a little adventure of your own.