Wayback Wednesday: Julie & Julia (2009)

Whatever you do, don’t watch it on an empty stomach.

On Monday night, I thought for a long time about what I wanted this week’s Wayback review to be. I mulled over a handful of different movies, all from different decades and in different genres. Then, yesterday was an unexpectedly dreary, rainy day and I thought to myself, “when I get home, I really just want to watch something warm and comforting.” I wanted to watch the movie equivalent of comfort food. So, I made myself a hot dinner for the first time in a long time, put on my pajamas and settled in to watch Julie & Julia (2009). In every sense of the term, I was pleasantly stuffed.

Screen Shot 2019-08-27 at 9.50.39 PM
Credit: imdb.com / Columbia Pictures

Based on the book by Julie Powell, Julie & Julia tells the stories of two enterprising women. In the 1950s, burgeoning chef Julia Child works tirelessly to complete her cookbook of French recipes for American women. In 2002, aspiring writer Julie Powell sets herself the challenge of cooking through Child’s acclaimed cookbook in one year. Powell chronicles the journey in a blog titled “The Julie/Julia Project.”

Now, I’ll be completely honest. The way that Julie, frustrated with her stagnant life, is inspired to write about her passion for cooking by starting a blog, is partially what inspired me to start Luke’s Living Room. The way she decides to do something with her time, finding a way to combine her love of food with her goal of being a novelist, resonated with me deeply. I just traded in cuisine for cinema. Let’s face it: I HAD to write a movie blog because when it comes to cooking, my skills are on par with Adam Sandler’s acting. It’s rough. I’m always amazed by and love watching movies about cooking because truly, it’s a talent I’ll never possess. For me, watching a movie like Julie & Julia, a love letter to the art of cooking, is like watching a fantasy. It’s a form of escapism and I’m more than happy to slip into this butter-drenched, perfectly seasoned, wine-filled world. God, my mouth waters just writing that. As does it each time the movie shows a close-up of one of the delicious meals Julie and Julia prepare. That bruschetta? I’M IN LOVE. A feast for the eyes, my hand to God there isn’t a single meal in this movie I’d pass up on.

If there’s anything more satisfying than the shots of the food, it’s this movie’s cast. Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Stanley Tucci, Chris Messina…this is a cast of actors I adore. As Julia Child, Streep transforms into the renowned chef in the same masterful way she handles each biographical role she plays. I don’t see Streep at all. All I see is Julia Child. What’s so incredible about Meryl’s acting style is how she is able to do so much while doing so little. With every flourish of her hand, change in tone and mournful glance, you get a fully-realized idea of who Child was. Streep seamlessly brings the famed chef to life, delivering a performance so wonderfully believable that you’d think she’d made a career out of studying Child.

Amy Adams. Has Amy Adams ever been bad in anything? Where Streep captures Child’s inherent joy and zest for life, Adams perfectly nails the frustration and despair that Powell goes through. Powell is nothing if not relatable and Adams does a spot-on job of crafting a character that any viewer can catch glimpses of themselves in. Though they never share a scene together you really get the sense that Streep and Adams are playing off each other. Their performances are strikingly similar while being completely different in a way that only a movie that flows as naturally as Julie & Julia can pull off. Sidenote, how much fun must it have been to be in this cast? Besides getting to to hang out with superstars on the regular, you get to eat a phenomenal meal in almost every scene you’re in. #GOALS.

Writer and director Nora Ephron knows how to helm a movie. Much like Nancy Meyers, Ephron creates an idyllic world that you wouldn’t hesitate to live in. Whether it’s hosting rooftop dinner parties with Julie or roaming the streets of Paris with Julia, you find yourself lost in both stories, wishing desperately to be included in the fun. You’re on the side of these characters wholeheartedly. You want them to succeed and what’s more, you enjoy being on the journey with them. Truly, I love watching  both stories unfold and I honestly can’t decide which one I like more. I mean, Julie’s story has an adorable cat, but Julia’s has sassy French ladies. I’m a big fan of both.

Every detail of Julie & Julia, whether it’s verbal or visual, is delightfully charming. That’s a testament to Ephron, the unofficial queen of loveliness. The screenwriter behind When Harry Met Sally… (1989), Sleepless in Seattle (1993) and You’ve Got Mail (1998), Ephron deserves more recognition for her role as this movie’s director. Realistic and inspiring dialogue, quick pacing and an impeccable use of contrast and comparison between the two stories are just a few examples of the great elements of filmmaking that Ephron utilizes. Ephron also knows how to write relationships and let me just say, we’d all be lucky to have partners like Paul and Eric. Supportive, thoughtful, loving…these are men who are more than husbands. They’re Julie and Julia’s partners and biggest fans.

I’m a big fan of stories about doers. About passionate people. About hardworking individuals who get back up each time they’re knocked down. That’s exactly what Julie & Julia is all about. Neither woman is content with the life she’s living and rather than accepting that, they have the courage to take charge of their own lives and follows their dreams no matter the cost. These are protagonists worth watching. Julie & Julie is a five-star meal that is sure to satisfy even your strongest craving. If you’re hungry for not one but two inspiring stories wrapped up in alluring visuals and memorable performances, serve yourself a big helping of Julie & Julia. Bon appétit.

Are you a fan of Julie & Julia? What are your favourite dishes?

Let me know in the comments or on social media!

 

 

 

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