Mmmm, just look at that tasty cast – Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Stanley Tucci. It doesn't really get much better than that. And films don't come much better than this one.
It's based on the true stories of two women – Julia Child, played here by Streep, and Julie Powell (Adams). Child was an American chef and author who introduced French cuisine to the American mainstream through her many cookbooks – the first, and most famous, of which was Mastering the Art of French Cooking, published in 1961. Child was also a pioneering TV chef, who was once superbly parodied by Dan Aykroyd on Saturday Night Live. Powell was a pioneering food blogger. Stuck in a boring job and desperate to be a writer, she started blogging her day-to-day adventures cooking her way through Child's book over the course of a year.
The film jumps between two stories set in two timeframes – Child and her husband, Paul (Tucci) living in France in the 1950s, and Powell and her husband, Eric (Messina) living in New York in the noughties. We watch as Child falls in love with French cuisine and forces her way into Le Cordon Bleu – the school for professional French chefs. We watch as Powell forces herself to prepare all 524 of Childs' recipes in just 365 days, blogging about it at she goes (and Powell still keeps that blog to this day). The performances of both leads are nothing short of perfect, as you'd expect from two actors of this calibre. Streep shines and dominates every scene she's in as the enigmatic, food-loving – and quite tall – Child. Adams is not quite as cute, perky and charming as always – she's a little more grown up here, and on occasions her character's whining does tend to grate a little.
The film is written and directoed by Nora Ephron, the filmmaker behind the romantic hits When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle, and she makes good use of her light comic touch. I was also pleased that the film stayed true to reality and didn't have the two main characters ever meet up. Julie & Julia is truly a tasty treat, with great performances, wonderful chemistry among the cast and some simply mouthwatering food porn. Trust me, you'll be wanting to rush home and cook up a beef bourguignon as soon as you leave the cinema.
EXTRAS *** Writer/director Ephron does the business in her audio commentary. There's also a 27-minute making-of documentary called Secret Ingredients:Creating Julie & Julia; a featurette called Family & Friends Remember Julia Child (in which a buch of the late Child's family and friends do exactly what it says on the tin); a featurette called Julia's Kitchen, which talks about Julia's "kitchen" exhbitionn at the Smithsonian; Cooking Lessons, two short featurettes that compare two recipes used in the film with how the real Julia prepared the same dish on her TV show (poached eggs, and hollandaise sauce); and a trailer for the food-based animated comedy loudy With a Chance of Meatballs.