Monday, September 7, 2009

Julie and Julia

Movie name: Julie and Julia
Year of release: 2009
Director: Nora Ephron
Stars: Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Stanley Tucci, Chris Messina, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Jane Lynch, Linda Emond, Joan Juliet Buck
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 5

Synopsis:Nora Ephron started her career as a screenwriter, with great acclaim in films as "Silkwood" and "When Harry Met Sally". Her career as a director has also known it's fair share of acclaim, notably with "Sleepless in Seattle" and "You've Got Mail", but most of her films are always met with mixed opinions and reviews. That is due mostly to the fact that beneath it's quirkiness, lies a very formulaic way of approaching the stories she chooses to tackle. Her previous films, "Bewitched" and "Lucky Numbers" were mediocre ones, so "Julie and Julia" is a good effort, even if not a totally accomplished one. The film follows two parallel stories, renowned cook/chef Julia Child's and her husband Paul (in the 60s) and a more contemporary one, the one of Julie Powell and her husband Eric. Julia Child is introduced as a larger than life woman, with an exuberant personality, that contrasts with her more subdued (and smaller in height) husband Paul. Both are living in Paris due to Paul's work in the American embassy. Julia's need to occupy herself takes her to cooking classes and to a project of publishing an herculean book based on french cooking. Julie's story arc, is of a young woman who hasn't accomplished much in her life, and who starts writing a blog, based on the recipes of Julia Child, much as a form of therapy. The problem of this film lies precisely in this division. Julia Child's story is suppose to act as a mentor or tutoring presence over the contemporary one, however it ends up being the most interesting thing of the entire film, making the contemporary side pale by comparison. Julia Child deserves a film for herself, for a life full of interest and populated with fascinating personalities and details, whereas Julie Powell's is one that comes across as petty, whining and ultimately irritating. The unbalance of this lies in the director's hands who does not know how to properly position both story arcs. Meryl Streep is fantastic and excels as usual in her role, enjoying a great chemistry with the also great Stanley Tucci. The usually good Amy Adams does what she can with an underwritten part, whereas Chris Messina as her husband is irritating beyond belief (and playing the same character he has played in the past films he has done). This is a film that is worth for half of the story it presents and for some fantastic acting.