Years ago, I read Julie Powell’s blog The Julie/Julia Project, about cooking her way through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It was good and funny, yet I think I dropped out around the time she worked on aspics. Their meaty quiver, the late hours to cook and consume them, plus the cost of ingredients all combined to make my head hurt. When Julie published her book, I thought it was great. And when the book was slated to become Julie & Julia, the movie with Meryl Streep and Amy Adams, even better.
I had a great time at this movie. I laughed a lot, and went ooh over some of the shots of food. I thought that the aural analogy between kissing and eating was heavy handed, but certainly appropriate to the subject matter. Adams was engaging as always, though perhaps not quite believable as an every-girl. Streep and Stanley Tucci all but steal the movie, with their stunning performances of a true power couple in love.
A lot of the reviews gripe that the Julia Child part is so much better than the Julie Powell part that they wish it had been all Streep as Child. They argue that Powell is self-involved and just not that interesting. That’s an opinion, but I’d like to remind them:
THIS MOVIE WOULD NOT EXIST IF NOT FOR JULIE POWELL.
Nor would the Julia Child renaissance that the movie, and Streep’s performance particularly, have spurred. Because it was Julie Powell who had an idea for the project to cook her way through a dusty old cookbook. Like Child before her, she brought classic French cooking to a modern American audience. So I think it’s unkind to dismiss Powell’s part in the film. Child inspired Powell, and Powell in turn inspired others to rediscover Child. Child’s teaching and inspiration are key to her legacy, so Powell’s role as disciple in real life and the film are necessary to show that. I was glad to have the two stories, and enjoyed Adams as a young woman struggling to find meaning in spite of a cubicle job and a stalled writing hobby. So go see the movie. It’s good. And if you enjoy it, be grateful to Julie Powell (still blogging, here), even if you like Julia Child more. Julie’s the reason you’re getting to know Julia, whose kitchen wisdom I’ll be thinking of for a long time:
Never apologize! (for food you’ve cooked) No excuses! No explanations!