November 24, 2009

Julie and Julia review

Julie and Julia
Starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams
Columbia Pictures

People always seek comfort food after a whole day of stress, and from the likes of it Julie and Julia may just be that companion to your bar of Toblerone.

Basically, Julie and Julia is based from two different memoirs. Need I even tell you who wrote the memoirs?
Anyway, Julie Powell is a typical American who likes to write, but didn't finish the novel she wanted published. Her husband suggests that she start a blog to scratch her writing itch, and since she finds comfort in cooking especially after dealing with various angry people in a government call center, she decides to start blogging about cooking.
And not just any type of cooking. She decides to go through (and blog about) her experiences cooking through the entire cookbook legendary American cooking teacher Julia Child made.
The movie will also juggle around the general life of Julia Child, and it shows that Julia Child wasn't always Julia Child at first. In the 40's she didn't even know how to cut an onion, but later she would rapidly gain progress in cooking class and go through a journey of getting her cookbook published.

First off I have to say that Meryl Streep is such an adorable character in this movie. Every time she's on screen, she just shines. You don't see Meryl Streep, you see an overly jolly Julia Child, and it's hard not to get into it because of her inviting, welcoming demeanor that isn't at any way condescending. When the situation demands Julia Child to be mad or sad however, Meryl Streep doesn't even overact. The subtlety of the emotion Streep utilizes is as effective as ever, and it raises a huge, unfair bar that Amy Adams doesn't ever get to reach.

So yeah, in other words, Julie Powell's life is of much less interest. Okay, maybe there's the occasional conflict, and a sprinkle of a meltdown, but there is nothing that feels major about any of the events of Julie's life. You don't even feel her "bummed-ness" when a distinguished dinner guest cancels at the last minute, despite a second chance at getting a burned dish right, which is oh-so sitcom-ish in its convenience. Basically, this part of the movie, which is actually the one of more focus, is just less interesting and feels a bit too simplified. It was supposed to make the typical frustrated working gal in the block relate to her, but the convenience of the plot just makes it unbelievable. Perhaps if you took a look at the real blog archives, well, maybe you'll believe the "524 recipes in 365 days" thing, but that's basically the only thing that's interesting about her. I mean, that part of the film doesn't even feel very urgent either. It feels as if it was all just a breeze when it shouldn't. Julie's emotional meltdowns (and the toll the project takes on her marriage) doesn't even faze because they feel all too pointless... they're solved a bit too easily.

But Julia Child's part... my God, it's much more worth watching. Just watching Meryl Streep act is worth the price of admission, but really, let's not lie, there are a few dull parts in the movie. And yet, just as the dull parts start to overstay their welcome, the editing saves the day.

Ultimately, the thing that works against it is the thing that works for it. In the effort to tell two stories, you'll be glad that there's a bit of variety to shake things up, but it just doesn't make the whole affair seem important nor does it beg you to get yourself to care. To make things worse, the two stories don't tie up nicely by the end of the movie, and throughout it you just feel disconnected between the two stories. They transition nicely enough, but even with good editing, there's not enough material to establish a connection.

It's just the kind of movie that, if someone asks you, "Why are you watching this?", you'll answer, "Just to kill time.". Not even Meryl Streep's great acting saves the movie as a whole from ever evolving into something memorable. If there's anything that can be memorable, it's Streep herself, and that's a bit of a bad thing, especially for Amy Adams.

It's not great, but it's not bad either. Entertaining, but not much food for thought.
Exactly like a bar of Toblerone at the end of a work day.
Rating: 7/10

No comments:

Post a Comment

Elegant de BlogMundi