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.