Let's Talk Off Broadway

Yvonne Korshak reviews Off-Broadway, Broadway, Film and Art

Film Note | Julie & Julia | Starring Meryl Streep

… Mickey Mouse …

This movie weaves between two stories, one from the past and one current.  The good part lets us in on Julia Child’s early years in Paris, her ecstatic discoveries of French food, the pleasures of the good life she shared with her husband, and how she became a chef and author.  Julia, her husband, played with touching warmth by Anthony Tucci, Paris, the food all look wonderful.  Meryl Streep captures Julia’s flighty, deep, tony voice, her bulky occupation of space that goes hand in hand with her alarming and amusing clumsiness, and her perseverance.  Julia Child lives before our eyes in that fascinating fluctuation of yes it’s her but after all it can’t be like watching Philip Seymour Hoffman as Capote or David Strathaim as Edward R. Murrow in Good Night, and Good Luck.

What an annoyance that the contemporary story of feckless Julie keeps rudely interrupting the genuine Julia!  Julie, played by Amy Adams, living with her husband in “Astoria” (spoken as if the word “Astoria”, in Queens, NY is some kind of exile, which it isn’t) lacks a sense of purpose, so she sets about cooking through all the recipes in Julia Child’s book written with two other chefs, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, in one year and, at her husband’s suggestion, records it all in a blog.  Her blog becomes a success and she wins a book contract.

In the movie, outside of being able to follow the directions in a cookbook, Julie has nothing special to offer.  Her too-cuteness and bemusement over boning a duck don’t compensate for her boring self-involvement.  Under a strain to be interesting, the Julie scenes unwind into slapstick.  Julia Child took no interest in Julie’s project.  How right she was.  It all but spoils her movie.  And Meryl Streep all but saves it, so in the upshot, it’s worth seeing if you’re drawn to Julia Child.

The relationship between Julia and Julie reminds me of what  Stephen Jay Gould showed happened to Mickey Mouse — at first he was a feisty, self-assured mouse with a good long, sharp mouse’s nose but over time softened up, turning into today’s baby faced spinoff of the original Mickey, with a so cute little nose. 

On a culinary note:  Since I’ve made Julia Child’s boeuf bourguignon, which features prominently in the movie, I feel I should say it doesn’t come out looking like that web of sticky-looking carrots on top.

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Review | Miss Margarida’s Way by Roberto Athayde | Starring Julie Halston | Directed by Daniel Goldstein | Produced by Bay Street Theatre | Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, NY

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Film Note | Inglourious Basterds | With Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Melanie Laurent | Directed by Quentin Tarantino

4 Comments

  1. Nadia

    Too little Julia and much too much Julie –in fact, you cut all of Julie, leave it on the cutting room floor and it would be a much better movie. What a pity there was not the whole life of Julia Childs – how was she educated, what was it like in Pasadena back then, how did she get to China, more about her wonderful husband ,etc. We now absolutely need the whole Julia Childs – just call this one a very bad experimental introduction. Meryl Streep did a super job – she should do the next one as well without the negative distractions from of Julie.

  2. I do agree that the “Julie” section of the film was not as successful as that of Meryl Streep’s superb, Julia, however, I did love seeing how “Julia” translates to today (or 2002 the year the film is set in Queens). Through food, which creates such sense memories, Julie feels connected to Julia, as does the audience! I find it quite thrilling that Julia Child’s book, My Life in France is now the #1 selling non-fiction paperback as listed by the NY Times and her cookbooks are also bestsellers again. I must admit, this film really got the “foodie” in me revved up and wanting to become more practiced in the art of cooking (French or otherwise)…as a serventless young woman!

  3. yodbarros@yahoo.com

    If only we could turn off Nora Ephron’s narration,this would be a really good film.

  4. Good point … though also I don’t find Amy Adams as “adorable” as others seem to …

    Thanks a lot for writing,
    Yvonne

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