Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Movie Review - Julie & Julia

I went to see Julie and Julia this past weekend, in between working all day Saturday and Sunday and trying to clean the house so it will be ready for my daughter's birthday party and the corresponding visit this coming weekend from my Dad, Stepmom, & nephew (my sister & her husband are staying home & just sending the nephew with my Dad).

SPOILER ALERT: I'm going to talk about the movie as if you've seen it, too, and so if you haven't seen it, I likely will spoil some of the fun of the movie for you. So stop reading here if you want to see the movie and be surprised by everything in it.

I enjoyed the movie, although it was a little longer than it perhaps needed to be. Meryl Streep did a fantastic job as Julia Child. She got the voice just right, and I almost believed she was Julia in some of the scenes from Julia's cooking show, which I used to watch when I was a kid - long before the "Food Network" made cooking shows a staple in our entertainment pantry.

Amy Adams was good, too, although there were a few scenes I thought she overplayed - she was too obviously "acting" and not "being." However, I loved the scene where she dropped the chicken she was stuffing and then had the meltdown on the kitchen floor and was flinging food in the air and then lying in it while crying -- haven't we all felt that way at some point? I don't mean necessarily over a cooking mishap, and I don't mean we've all acted on those feelings, but haven't we all felt that tantrum-y desperate, flailing, utter sense of hopelessness over something that just wasn't going the way it was supposed to go?

I thought the film was a little harsh on women and their relationships. If Julie the blogger's friendships in real life really are like the ones pictured in the film - complete with huge amounts of backbiting, backstabbing, one-upmanship, and petty jealousies, then I think the poor gal needs some new friends. (And no wonder she's having meltdowns on the kitchen floor - she has no girlfriends she can call for support without risking being cut down even further!) I, for one, don't tend to hang around with folks who treat me the way her friends treated her in the movie.

A warning to anyone who wants to have lunch with me: If you grab a breadstick out of my hand and tell me "no" like I'm a two year old the way Julie's friend did to her in the movie, I'll grab another breadstick and smack your head with it.

And if you spend most of the lunch alternately chatting on your cell phone and bragging about your million-dollar deals, you can expect me to (1) duck out before the end of the meal while you are chatting on your phone, without paying for my portion (leaving you stuck with the bill), and (2) never have lunch with you again. If you want to have lunch with me, great, have lunch with me. If you're too big and important and/or busy and/or self-absorbed to turn off the stupid cell phone for half an hour, then don't do me any favors by pretending to dine with me!

I'm a little more forgiving of the strain portrayed in the relationship between Julia Child and the two women she worked with to write her first book - after all, it was primarily a business relationship, not solely a friendship, and so some amount of friction is to be expected. In spite of the friction, though, Julia and her business partners appeared to treat each other more kindly than Julie and her friends did.

Similarly, Julia and her husband appeared to treat each other more kindly than Julie treated her husband - although to Julie's credit, she recognized this and tried to change her behavior.

I think these contrasts were supposed to be a comment on the decline of modern society and our increasing tendency to be rude, but I wonder if it is merely portraying an idealized version of the past. Were people really that much kinder to each other in their personal relationships in the 1950's, or do we just think they were?

Overall, the movie was good, if you like the sort of movie that explores the characters and their relationships, rather than focusing on action, adventure, and explosions. And if you're a Julia Child fan, it's a must-see. It contains quite a bit of information about Julia that I, for one, never knew before and which appears to be reasonably historically accurate.

Has anyone else seen it? What did you think?


Prunella Jones said...

Meryl Streep is a marvel. She can always disappear into any character and make you root for her, even if she is playing a baddie.

And I know exactly what you mean about the tantrums. I feel that way whenever I have to make anything more complicated than a sandwich.

Bella said...

hey girl, I have not seen the movie, but I too have certainly felt like having a meltdown in the kitchen at times! ha!

I guess I'll see it when it comes out on video more than likely!

Adriana said...

I haven't seen the movie yet but am looking forward to it. We were in DC this past weekend and went to a couple Smithsonian museums. Her (Julia's) kitchen exhibit had the biggest crowd.

talesNtypos said...

You ask an interesting question of relationships, who does 'em better? I suspect there are just as many good or bad ones in any which epoch. Also, is the zeitgeist of our time, our easy ability to be rude? Possibly.
The movie was alright I thought. Didn't like Streep so much in this one. But then I have no Julia Child memories to compare her to. She was staggeringly good in Sophie's Choice. If you haven't already, that's the one I recommend.