“Julie & Julia” is a film about following dreams, self-transformation, and the importance of love. Frankly, I hate films where this theme is so explicit. They're usually bland. But something about "Julie & Julia" keeps it spicy and delicious – and it's not just all the butter.
The film follows the stories of two real-life women in two different time periods but in similar stages in their life. Julie Powell (played by the lovely Amy Adams) is a Texan woman living in a post 9/11 New York at a dead-end government job; Julia Child (played perfectly by Oscar-winner Meryl Streep) is an American woman living in France in the 1940s and 50s who can't stand to just be a housewife.
Both are foodies, both are in need of a career and both are over-talented and underused.
We follow the women on their road to success where, like in any true life movie, the climax is not their success but the way they got to it. Julie Powell writes a blog in which during the span of a year she will create every single recipe in Julia Child's master cookbook, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” We follow Julia Child in writing and publishing said cookbook.
What's endearing and refreshing about this film is the examination of two marriages.
In so many films with strong female titular characters, men are either largely dismissed or portrayed as complete antagonists. Not so in “Julie & Julia.” Paul Child (played by Stanley Tucci) and Eric Powell (portrayed by Chris Messina) are stars as much as their female counterparts, providing support to both women and giving us an incredible portrayal of love.
It is a film where the husbands aren't chastised for being men, or are barriers to their wives' goals - it's about the work it takes to make a working marriage.
Best of all, it's funny. Nora Ephron certainly knows how to write a hilarious screenplay, but what can make or break any comedy is its delivery. Thankfully, Ephron was able to round up a cast that played the laughs and the drama with ease.
Streep brings great laughs with her pitch-perfect portrayal of Julia across Tucci's Paul. And the banter between Adams and Messina as Julie and Eric is both realistic and hysterical. The comedy in the film is what gives any of its drama weight and importance – both Ephron and the cast show they understand this perfectly.
“Julie & Julia” is a romantic comedy women can take their husbands to that won't bore them with a fantastical make-the-women-swoon plot and won't make them feel ashamed to be men. For it seems that those two things are what make romantic comedies "chick flicks."
So if you watch one romantic comedy this year, this should be it.
“Julie & Julia” hits theatres Friday, August 7.
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