It’s taken me long enough to finally go see Julie & Julia. I wanted to see it opening weekend, but sadly couldn’t. Meryl Streep? Amy Adams? Paris? Glorious food? I couldn’t have wanted to see a movie more.
I had read a number of reviews, and almost every reviewer said the same thing: LOVED Meryl Streep as Julia! The filming in France was gorgeous! But Amy Adams as Julie Powell? I’ll take a pass. I would have preferred the whole movie be Julia’s story.
I beg to differ.
I didn’t know anything about the real Julie Powell before watching the film, but Julie Powell as Amy Adams portrayed her was quite the sympathetic character. She was a blogger. (I am a blogger.) She loved to cook. (I love to cook.) She wanted to write, but was stuck in a hellish 8-5 office job. (Meet me, just six short years ago.) She had a tiny little kitchen and a limited budget. (Again, meet me, just six short years ago.) She was going on thirty and felt like she hadn’t really accomplished much in her life yet. (Ahem. I’m sounding like a broken record. But yes, I too, felt this way not long ago.)
I loved watching the story go back and forth between the two women from such different generations.
Julia Child felt compelled to write a cookbook on French cooking for “servantless American cooks.” She was raised in an era where just about everyone in the middle class had servants of one sort or another. Think back to all those old television shows with housekeepers or cooks popping in and out of the episodes, and you’ll know I’m right. In Julie Powell’s world — our world — there are no servants. No housekeepers or cooks. There’s nobody here but us.
Julia wrote that cookbook to make French cuisine accessible to middle class Americans who didn’t have professionally trained cooks preparing their food. She wrote it for us.
She wrote it for women like Julie Powell.
And she wrote it for the novice. Her goal was to include enough detailed instruction that even someone who’d never prepared food this way before would be able to follow the instructions and make exquisitely perfect meals.
Across generational lines, across time and space, Julie Powell learned from Julia as best she could. She prepared Julia’s recipes day after day in an effort to put some meaning, some soul, some fun, into the monotony of her empty life.
All in all, I loved both stories. I loved Paris in the 50s. The costumes and the scenery were just enchanting. I loved watching Meryl Streep bring the Francophile Julia to life. But I also loved watching Julie in her shabby little sit-and-spin kitchen, stretching herself, confronting her fears, and becoming a better person for her struggles.
In the quiet of my home, mulling the movie over in my mind, I’m still as excited about the idea of seeing it again as I was about seeing it the first time. That says a lot!
A Word of Caution
Avoid the Julie/Julia Project blog. Don’t go read it. Don’t find out what the real Julie Powell was like — at least not until you’ve seen the movie.
When my friend and I left the theater, she said she LOVED every second of the movie except for one part. She was sad to learn that Julia Child didn’t like Julie Powell’s blog. In the movie, the news is heartbreaking to Julie, and the audience is left wondering why? Why didn’t Julia like Julie’s blog?
A quick look at Julie’s blog will give you all the answers you need. Sure, she drops foul language left and right, but she also seems to care more about the television shows she’s watching while she cooks or how drunk she can get than she does about the actual food. In one post, she says, “I was supposed to degrease the sauce, but f— it.” No wonder Julia Child said Julie didn’t “seem very serious” about it. After all, Julia had spent years of her life researching and writing utterly fail-proof recipes. And Julie waltzes in, disregards the directions, and whines about her failures on her blog.
Of course, everyone has a right to their off days, so perhaps I’m being too harsh. Nevertheless, Amy Adam’s Julie is so approachable and adorable. I’d much rather stick to that story.