'Julie & Julia' (& Nora)
"Never before has food being cooked and eaten on screen looked so good."
If you're a serious eater, you're going to love Julie & Julia, Nora Ephron's graceful, funny, and generously spirited new movie. Why do I say this?
Not because the back of my head takes a star turn that, according to Nora herself, "has everyone talking" (ha, ha). No, I'm afraid that joy will only be shared by my family and friends who will be the only ones taking note of my hatted head walking behind Amy Adams as she orders beef for her boeuf bourguignon at the Dean & Deluca butcher counter.
I say that you are going to love this film because it's as passionate, discerning, and inclusive when it comes to food and life as Serious Eats. I say that because it is about the food-centric lives of two strong women—food icon Julia Child (played to a turn by the equally iconic Meryl Streep), and writer-cum-food blogger Julie Powell (played by a fetching and appealing Amy Adams)—discovering their bliss and their calling by writing and cooking.
I say that because the movie celebrates the joys and the tensions of marriage, an altogether unusual exposition in any movie. I say that because it celebrates men and women eating, cooking, and the sheer joy people derive from sitting down at meals together in a way that has never been depicted before. Virtually every few minutes another dish and another meal gets a star turn. Never before has food being cooked and eaten on screen looked so good.
Is it autobiographical? Everyone wants to know.
In one of the many New York Times pieces about the film, Nora says no. Her pal Mike Nichols begs to differ. So do I.
Nora and I have only had a few meals together, so I can't say I know her intimately or all that well, but it is patently obvious that Nora felt this material in her bones in a way that no other director would have. How so? It's a movie about two strong woman who find their bliss and their calling by cooking and writing.
It's a movie about the enduring power and pleasures of a strong marriage (yes, I know that Julie Powell writes about an affair she had in her about-to-be published book, Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession). It's a movie about the deeply satisfying pleasures of breaking bread, cooking a meal for friends, and just eating and drinking with people you care about.
It's a movie that celebrates perseverance and hard work and real love. Sound familiar, Nora Ephron fans?
As far as I'm concerned the movie should have been called Julie, Julia, & Nora. The studio might have balked, but it's the truth. Go see the movie for yourself. It's the most life and food affirming film I've seen in years. It's got heart, it's got soul, and it's got boeuf bourguignon and Dover sole meunière. What more could you want?