Julie & Julia Review

Jason and I went to see Julie & Julia the other night. I liked part of it. Half of it, to be precise: the Julia half.

So, let me start with that.

Unsurprisingly, Meryl Streep was absolutely brilliant as the effervescent Julia Child. I thought she captured her so perfectly - the voice, the mannerisms, the uninhibited charm. Julia's storyline was intriguing. Through the lens of her character, we see the struggle for women to be taken seriously in a male-dominated profession, the devastation wrought by McCarthyism, the challenge of publishing a cookbook unlike anything American publishers had encountered before, and Julia's own private sadness about not having children. Stanley Tucci played the mild-mannered Paul Child with a nice subtlety, the affable yin to Julia's lively yang. I found myself smiling at Julia's various antics and cheering along with her when (*spoiler for those who've been living under a rock?*) she finally does get published.

Now, ahem. The Julie part? I think the word that best sums up my feelings is "blah," however inarticulate that may be. I was really put off by Julie's character. In the book, she comes across as witty and intelligent, if slightly self-absorbed. Now, granted, it's almost impossible to act opposite Meryl and come out on the winning end of any comparison, but I found Amy Adams' Julie Powell to be really, really annoying. The extent of her emotional range seemed to be employing a wide variety of pouty faces, teary self-realizations, and childlike tantrums. It was partly the way the character was written, but I also think it was grossly over-acted. And, to be honest, it was not very interesting. So, she has a depressing job? That definitely stinks. But were we supposed to feel sorry for her because she chooses to hang out with self-absorbed corporate fembots and lives in a 900 square-foot apartment with her adorable, loving husband, oh, except that it's in Queens (quelle horreur!)? Give me a break. (And by the way, did anyone else think the fights with her husband seemed totally unrealistic and contrived?) Now I realize that those were, in fact, Julie Powell's circumstances and I'm not suggesting that the movie should've switched up the facts, but I think it really glossed over the complexity of her unhappiness and her pursuit of a meaningful existence, which, in the book, is portrayed with nuance and self-effacing humor.

So, I guess this is what the kids like to call a "mixed review." Loved some parts, really didn't care for others. And, as a huge fan of the book, I really wanted to love it, so I'm surprised by the intensity of my indifference, if there is such a thing as intense indifference.

Those of you who've seen the movie...care to weigh in? Am I totally off in my annoyance with Julie? Was she supposed to be annoying and I just missed the point? Tell me what you thought!

P.S. I did like the Amanda Hesser cameo, even if it was sort of pointless since she said approximately two words. If you haven't read Hesser's book, Cooking for Mr. Latte, I highly recommend it.

Image via FoodieSuz.


Melita said...

loved both the book and the movie both for very different reasons. as far as the julie part, the book was better than the movie. as for the julia part, the movie was better than the movie. i am also a mixed reviewer :/

green ink said...

I really want to see it now, maybe just for the Amanda Hesser cameo. I loved Cooking for Mr Latte.

Lauren said...

Unrelated to this post (sort of) but I wanted to pass along the link to a food writing e-course with Monica Bhide that starts in November. She is the author of "Modern Spice", which is a totally beeeeeeautiful cookbook, and is here in DC. When I saw the course you were the first person I thought of, so I wanted to be sure to pass it along!

Lauren said...

Um the link would be helpful, I bet:


AnalieseMarie said...

Lauren, that sounds great! I really like Monica Bhide's cookbooks. Thanks for passing that along!


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