Julie & Julia—Two Stories, Only One of Which I Liked

Julie & Julia movie poster
Julie & Julia

Julie & Julia is the simultaneous stories of Julia Child learning to cook and publishing her landmark book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and Julie Powell in 2002, who decides to spend a year making all the recipes in the book and blog about it.

1—Julia’s Story

Julia Child moves to Paris with her husband Paul, who works for the American government and was stationed there. Julia falls in love with the people and food and decides to attend Le Cordon Bleu. While at a party, she meets Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle, who are writing a cookbook—a cookbook which needs to be rewritten. They ask Julia for help. After many trials, the book finally finds a home with Alfred A. Knopf and is published. Along the way, her sister gets married, her husband is interrogated by the government he serves (this was the McCarthy era), and she meets a pen pal.

2—Julie’s Story

Julie Powell works for the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, in which she either deals with the most heartbreaking stories or gets yelled at. On top of that, her friend publishes a story about their generation turning thirty, using Powell as an example of the generation being disappointing somehow—I don’t remember the specifics. Said friend also starts a vacuous blog. Powell’s husband suggests she start her own blog, and they eventually select cooking—Powell’s escape—as her subject. Powell decides to cook all the recipes in Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a year. Things do not go smoothly.

Conclusion

I only found Julia Child’s timeline interesting. Meryl Streep is charming as Julia Child, and I wish they’d simply decided to make the movie about her. She had a fascinating life. Amy Adams’s character of Julia Powell, on the other hand, just bored me. She was whiney for most of the movie, and while I understand the narrative need for the protagonist to change over the course of the story, she just never caught my sympathy. My mom liked the whole movie though, so your mileage may vary.

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