Julie & Julia Nora Ephron

Julie & Julia Nora Ephron
Knowing that Nora Ephron's directorial style is very much point-and-shoot-ain't-it-cute?, there really isn't much to expect of Julie & Julia beyond a couple of enlivened performances from the leading ladies and a few kooky montages involving cooking mishaps. And in this sense, these duelling tales of women rebuilding their lives delivers in spades, with Amy Adams struggling with guilt over killing a lobster, and testing her gag reflex while making Jell-O from a calf leg. It's just not much more than that. Based on the novel, which was based on the blog by the lost-in-life Julie Powell (played here by Amy Adams), the film parallels the experience of Powell's goal of cooking every recipe in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking within a year with Julia Child's (Meryl Streep) introduction into the world of French cuisine. Julie works as a temp, taking calls for 9/11 insurance claims, while Julia embarks on the adventure of advance cooking classes in a post-WWII environment of restructuring. Overlooking the tackiness and broad ignorance of comparing 9/11 to WWII, the mirroring of stories detailing female empowerment on individual terms rather than in relation to social expectation, with men playing only supporting roles, proves relatively fresh and clever. The only downside is that the portrayal of Julia Child is idealized, given that it is Julie Powell's idea of the cooking legend, making that storyline somewhat cartoon-ish and bland despite the occasional smattering of McCarthyism. Regardless, as a fun and slight story of a young woman finding unlikely success doing something she loves, this cooking dramedy charms, making for easy and accessible viewing for those inclined. Included with the DVD is an extended "making of" titled "Secret Ingredients: Creating Julie & Julia," which features the usual stories of conception, execution and character motivations. A commentary track with Nora Ephron provides intermittent anecdotes for those keen on knowing what it was like filming certain scenes. (Sony)