Julie & Julia is an intermingling of two books: My Life in France, Julia Child’s autobiography written with Alex Prud’homme and The Julie/Julia Project, Julie Powell’s novel based on her popular blog about the year she spent cooking every one of the 524 recipes in Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The movie switches back and forth between the story of Julia learning to cook in France, and Julie learning to cook from Julia in the present day, and how cooking changes both their lives.
Nora Ephron, who wrote and directed Julie & Julia, is an old hand at these type of feel good movies – she wrote Sleepless in Seattle, and wrote and directed You’ve Got Mail and Michael – and she’s put together a very glossy package here. Watching Meryl Streep channel Julia Child is an absolute joy, and Stanley Tucci is utterly adorable as her husband, but Amy Adam’s innate likability can’t quite overcome the grating whining of her character.
The conceit works well, switching from past to present, and it’s nice to see a story about adults trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives, but in the end there’s nothing too meaningful to be found here. It’s a nice enough movie, but watching it is a bit like eating a macaroon – sweet, too sugary for some, and with no nutritious quality whatsoever. Still, if you enjoy watching delicious meals being created before your eyes, you will find plenty to feast your eyes on here.
All in all, there are worse ways to spend two hours.