Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Julie & Julia

Rating : 8/10
Release Date : Sep, 2009
Time : 95 minutes
Director & Writer : Nora Ephron (based on Julie Powell’s book of the same name; Music : Alexandre Desplat
Starring : Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Stanley Tucci, Chris Messina, Linda Edmond, Helen Carey, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Jane Lynch

Some movies make you smile from frame one. This one not only does that but charms and endears you too, warming up your heart, as two women in different era’s find meaning in their lives via the kitchen. Also, for a movie which is merely about cooking, it’s amazing the number of larger perspectives / thoughts it provoked.

There are two parallel stories running here.

One is about Julie (Amy Adams), petite, sweet, stuck in a govt job going nowhere, who, in 2005, finds herself moving to Queens, to a small apartment above a pizzeria, overlooking a busy road. And finds life not entirely a bunch of roses. Her friends make fun of her, dominate her (really funny lunch meeting between them). Then, her husband Eric (Chris Messina) encourages her to start a blog and then they hit upon the idea of going through the recipes of a famous cook of yesteryears, Julia Childs, all 524 of them, in a period of a year. That now becomes the focal point of her life as she rapidly moves from beef bourguignon to learning how to cope with live lobsters or how to strip a duck. And her life is transformed.

Parallely, we learn about Julia herself, how her foray into the world of cassoulets and bouillabaisse happens. She is married to Paul (Stanley Tucci), a US Govt employee (was he a secret agent ? or not ? anyways, its not really important), recently posted to Paris, France. They arrive in France without knowing much of the language but then Julia, with all her positivity, optimism and charm, proceeds to make friends with all and sundry around her. To keep busy, she first tries hat-making lessons. Then tries the French language and the results aren't pretty. Tries an amateur cooking class but then realises (as she already knows how to boil an egg, which was lesson one) that she must try for the slightly more advanced professional course, the Cordon Bleu, which is populated by unsmiling male chefs only. Despite the constant discouragement of Madame B and the icy reception in class one, her natural competitive spirit provokes her to cut onions as fiercely and quickly as any of her peers (I loved this scene and the delicate fist pump after) and slowly she begins to enjoy what she does, learning how to cook the French flavours and delicacies almost to perfection.

Both stories move on, sweetly but surely, intercutting each other with the practiced ease of a chef’s knife. And funnily enough, that’s what the whole movie is about…the lives of these two women, united over the years with their new-found love for cooking. You didn’t need and thankfully there weren’t any silly sub-plots. And you know what…it was enough, interesting and absorbing by itself.

For a change, for both women, their husbands are shown to be tremendously supportive, caring and loving, in a very natural way, without being mushy or overly sentimental or over the top. Also, Julia, has a very healthy relationship with her sister, both of them, tall, with curly auburn hair, towering over the other women around them. In a world where most couples / siblings seem to share slightly fractured or dysfunctional relationships, this was pleasant to see and ‘learn’ from.

Also important was how their fast growing love for cooking, uplifts them, enables them to overcome some setbacks in their day to day lives and ultimately, becomes the definition of what they do / become. Is there a message here for all the kitty partying housewifes in India, to similarly find a focus and to seek their true calling ?
You enjoy and live through their little adventures. How Julia makes sounds like an orchestra when she is busy cooking, much to her husbands delight. How Julie goes through more than a few meltdowns. How she celebrates each comment on her blog with the girl in the cubicle next to her. How Julia joins hands with two other French women who are determined to make French cooking understandable to Americans. And their struggle to find a publisher. Or Julie’s struggle to cope with her job, sceptical mother, boss, husband (who proclaims loudly at one point that ‘I’m no saint’ as the sex dries up) and the cooking.

I chose to watch this film only because Nora Ephron, who helped shape my thoughts via her screenplay in ‘When Harry Met Sally’, has written and directed this one. Its lovely, delightful and keeps you glued to the screen for the entire length. Watch it, if not for anything else, then just to experience the smell of the culinary delights being conjured up almost succeed in wafting over from your TV screen.


Julie & Julia said...

The film depicts events in the life of chef Julia Child in the early years in her culinary career, contrasting her life with Julie Powell. Last night i Download Julie & Julia Movie online. This movie is rally full of fun.

Anonymous said...

Amiable brief and this post helped me alot in my college assignement. Thank you for your information.

Anonymous said...

Well I to but I contemplate the collection should prepare more info then it has.