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Quickie Review: Julie and Julia

So I saw Julie and Julia this weekend and I have to say, I was impressed. I liked the movie’s style and as a blogger, thought that the writer-director, Nora Ephron, portrayed this solitary habit with a great deal of tact and reality. The blogging was neither super-sleek nor silly but looked and felt on camera like the extension of a writer’s life. In my review, I will focus mostly on the screenwriting, what I know best, and answer the question: Should you go see this movie?

Let me hit the plot real quick: Julie Powell (Amy Adams) is a career-stranded twentysomething about to turn thirty. Seeking inspiration, she begins a food blog, recreating all 524 of Julia Child’s recipes from her landmark Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Meanwhile, the other half of the movie is interested in the education of Julia Child (Meryl Streep in one of her best roles) as a cook at Paris’ Cordon Bleu and the writing of the cook book.

As a writer, I was struck by Ephron’s sympathy and understanding of the writer’s life. We see Child nervously prepare the book and then feel sad with her when it initially faces rejection. We feel the same rush of emotion during the final frame when she receives a copy of her book in the mail. Just as Child struggles to publish her book, so does Julie—who carries her unfinished novel like an albatross around her neck—convinced that she does not have the talent to truly be a “writer.” But both Julia Child and Julie are writers, they may not be published at first, but as Julie’s husband Eric (Chris Messina) points out, the simple act of pushing pen to paper is enough. There are no writer badges, and both characters’ acceptance of that simple fact and their ability to persist even if they are not successful writers was the movie’s true message: keep writing until it hurts.

Of course, the movie is also about food, and me not being a foodie probably did not help my enjoyment of that part. I like a turkey on rye sometimes, but what characters eat isn’t important to me. To cut to the chase, as they say around these parts, the Julia part is infinitely more interesting than the Julie part, and not just because of the blogging/book divide. Sometimes the cutting between the two stories is spot-on, other times it is clunky. To me, Julie comes off as selfish and self-absorbed. Her greatest moments seem to be when journalists call. Not that I too am not a sucker for publicity and it is nice to be recognized, but part of the blog is just to write for writing’s sake. OK, I’m digging a hole for myself here so I’ll stop.

Go see Julie and Julia, the script is excellent and the depiction of writers is one-of-a-kind. One thumb up. The other thumb fell off during a duck braising accident ala Dan Akroyd.

Julia Child in the Kitchen

Julia Child in the Kitchen