Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

October 23, 2009

Bon appetit!

Filed under: Their Films — Rajeev @ 10:10 pm

October 23, 2009

Cast: Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Stanley Tucci, Chris Messina

Director: Nora Ephron

A rare treat of a film that will appeal to both foodies and fans of good acting, Nora Ephron’s Julie & Julia stars Amy Adams as Julie Powell, an unsuccessful writer in 2002 New York who starts a blog describing her attempts to tackle all the recipes in celebrated American cook Julia Child’s landmark book, Mastering The Art of French Cooking. Julie gives herself the target of 524 recipes in 365 days.

The story of how she accomplishes this is intercut with the story of Julie’s heroine Julia Child (played by Meryl Streep). The bored wife of an American diplomat in 1950s France, Julia Child weathered all kinds of disappointments before emerging a culinary expert who introduced Americans to French food through her revered tome.

Switching back and forth between the two narratives is an effective device that allows us to understand the differences between the two women’s lives in the two eras. The attitude of Julia’s supportive friends as against the bitchy, competitive gal-pals of Julie. More importantly, the attitude of their respective partners. Julia’s husband (played by Stanley Tucci) is a doting, worshiping darling, while Julie’s husband (played by Chris Messina) starts off supportive, but at one point walks out of their apartment and disappears for days when he’s threatened by his wife’s obsessive interest in food.

Too squeaky-clean and feel-good to actually make you care for its characters, Julie & Julia sucks you in anyway, because the cooking scenes are so lusciously filmed, you’ll find your mouth watering more than once.

The film’s real trump card, however, is Meryl Streep’s performance as the French cooking guru. Streep nails Julia Child’s distinctive high-pitched voice, her literally towering personality, and most of all her infectious enthusiasm. It’s impossible not to find yourself smiling ear-to-ear each time she perfectly impersonates Julia Child’s trademark sign-off “Bon Apetit” in that unmissable voice.

Amy Adams, playing a character that’s less likable than Julia, nevertheless succeeds in shaking off Julie’s grumpy self-centredness by making her feisty and vulnerable.

Packed with humor and affection, Julie & Julia is a charming film about food and marriage and about doing the things in life that give us happiness. It’s an easy watch that’s bound to make you hungry.

Three out of five for Julie & Julia; you’ll never look at butter in the same way again!

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

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