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Julie & Julia
Genre Biography
Year: 2009

Julie & Julia is a homage to Julia Child's most famous cook book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, a 734-page bestseller, which was and is critically acclaimed for its recipes, giving American chefs a taste for French cuisine and cooking techniques. Child is also famous for her television appearances, most notably The French Chef. Julie & Julia parallels Child's build-up to her magnum opus in 1961 with Julie Powell's 2002 challenge to cook all the recipes in Child's first book in the space of a year.

What follows is an entertaining, invigorating journey in both woman's lives as Child learns the art of French cooking in order to translate it into practical know-how for an American audience and Powell attempts to do the impossible, tracing Child's steps as she prepares every single recipe in her Mastering the Art of French Cooking some 41 years later and detailing her ups and downs on her blog.

The script called for two exceptional performances and who better than the well-to-do Meryl Streep with Amy Adams tucked under her arm. The two never appear on screen together, but make a solid counterbalance as the narrative hops between the late '50s and early 2000s.

Streep is hilarious as the 6ft 2" Child, whose personality and presence is simply larger-than-life. There's plenty of comedy with Streep, whose disposition isn't so far from being Pythonesque, as Child embraces the French, their lifestyle and their cooking. It's a big performance in every sense of the word and it's so over-the-top, that you're left wondering if Streep only had access to Child's television appearances.

After watching The Omelette Show on The French Chef, I can vouch that Streep nails Child's outrageous accent and mannerisms, which makes me wonder if Monty Python also took a page out of Child's cookbook for comedy. Amy Adams is up the task with a solid turn as the mousy, Julie Powell, in all her frenetic cooking, reckless abandon and relational calamities. Then Stanley Tucci completes the picture as Child's straight-laced husband and Streep's comic foil.

To say Julie & Julia's a chick flick would be accurate in terms of content and Nora Ephron's involvement as writer-director. However, just as Sleepless in Seattle and You've Got Mail worked... Julie & Julia is still palatble for date night. It has the comical whimsy, period piece interest and modern relationship dynamics to appease the men folk, and as they say... the way to a man's heart is through his appetite... and if that doesn't work, use a knife!

Some would say that the book relies a bit too heavily on the blogger, without enough focus on Child. One would think her life was extraordinary enough to develop a whole film on its own. However, this is also the film's saving grace... diverting our attention from the over-the-top fish-out-of-water antics to a little piece of "normal" in the familiar 2000s, saves us from tiring of Streep's comic performance. So it's a co-dependent relationship, which is good and bad. It thins the characters slightly with equal weighting, but is more equally balanced than the book and more entertaining overall.

Julie & Julia is a passionate film, filled with passionate performances and a love for cooking. It may not be a fully-fledged biography, juxtaposing the then and now of two separate lives, but it fills the gaps with just the right amount of comedy, drama and yes ladies... romance. The performances are from the top shelf, the script is full of flavour and the direction is spotless. If it tickles you, it's one of those movies you'll want to watch over and over again... just like many of Ephron's previous films.

The bottom line: Cooking.

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