Sometimes you just want to watch a guilt-free, entertaining, and hilarious movie. Julie & Julia is a great choice for just such an occasion.
Based on a blog created by Julie Powell that kept track of her attempt to cook her way through Julia Child’s book in a year, Julie & Julia is a plain ol’ fun movie. Switching back and forth between Powell (in 2002) and Child (in the early years of her career), Julie & Julia is presented like two separate movies that have been seamlessly melded together. Things happening in the scenes focusing on Child sync up with scenes focusing on Powell, with similarities between the two women all over the place. Both stories get just the right amount of screen time; I never found myself growing tired of one story or the other. Most of the humor comes out during the scenes that follow Child around, although some of the interactions between Powell and her husband are pure gold.
Meryl Streep does an absolutely amazing job of playing Julia Child. Flinging herself about the sets, talking excitedly in a high-pitched falsetto voice, chuckling or laughing at nearly everything, Streep really nails the performance. The fact that Streep has now played both Julia Child and Miranda Priestly is a testament to her versatility as an actress. While I wouldn’t call her portrayal of Child her best acting accomplishment, she was perfectly cast for the role. I couldn’t imagine anyone else pulling it off as well as she did. Her on screen chemistry with Stanley Tucci (who plays Child’s husband) also deserves mentioning. From the moment you first see the two of them on screen as husband and wife, it is completely believable.
Amy Adams is equally effective as Julie Powell. Her excitement and frustration with trying to cook her way through Child’s book comes across as genuine, while her interactions with her on-screen husband (played by Chris Messina) feel fluid and natural. The various dishes she prepares throughout the film all look super tasty. Watching this movie is kind of like watching Iron Chef…make sure you have some food/snacks readily available, or you’ll go nuts by the end.
Camera angles are fairly standard throughout the film, although they manage to make Powell’s little apartment truly tiny. I was consistently impressed that they managed to make the apartment scenes feel so small, despite having a large number of crew members and equipment. The fact that you normally see two to three walls in almost every shot makes it even more impressive. I’m not sure how they accomplished this, but whatever they did it worked flawlessly. Lighting throughout the film is bright, with cheery colors and each home made up to feel warm and inviting. Powell’s kitchen in the film is especially comfy looking, despite its limited size. Individual shots last a fairly long time, and the editing style is smooth throughout the film.
Julie & Julia is a very well done and entertaining film; it’s especially good for watching after seeing a creepy movie. Whether you would normally watch a movie like this or not, you should make the effort to do so; it deserves every award it has received, as do the actors/actresses who are in it. Highly recommended.