By Jenny Peters
“Julie & Julia” is mostly a delight. Meryl Streep as Julia Child is priceless, Stanley Tucci as her ever-loving husband Paul provides perfect support, and Jane Lynch’s quick cameo as her too-tall sister Dorothy is wonderful.
Writer-director Nora Ephron (“Sleepless in Seattle,” “Michael,” “You’ve Got Mail”) mixes up a yummy stew when she’s telling Julia’s story, which begins when she and Paul move to France in 1949 and ends just as her seminal cookbook, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” is published in America in 1961. Child’s lifelong love of food is wonderfully presented, as is the romance that she and her husband shared for more than forty years.
The “Julie” in the title is another real-life character, blogger-turned-book-author Julie Powell. Amy Adams plays Julie, a frustrated writer who is slogging through tough a post-911 government job, counseling victims and families on how to navigate the claim process for monetary compensation. It’s giving her the blues, until she hits upon an idea. Why not make every one of the recipes (over 500) in Julia’s famed cookbook, within a single year, and blog about her experience? With her husband’s concurrence, Julie begins the experiment.
That contemporary side of “Julie & Julia” is much less compelling than the long-ago segments, mostly because Julie cannot hold a candle to Julia. Larger than life in every way, Julia Child became an icon of the foodie movement in America as her career as the first real television chef/star went into the stratosphere, and this loving, funny look at the years that shaped her is simply terrific.
If you are an avowed foodie or a struggling writer, both sides of the story will resonate; probably so much that you should add another jet to our rating of this film. If not, Meryl Streep’s performance alone makes “Julie & Julia” well worth the price of admission.
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