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American Women's Club of Hamburg

Julie & Julia

****1/2
Starts September 3

Julie Powell (Amy Adams) & Julia Child (Meryl Streep), although born generations apart, turn a fondness for eating in to a passion for cooking that changes the course of their respective lives. With equal amounts of humor and drama and a dash of zaniness, sprinkle in Stanley Tucci (Paul Child) and Chris Messina (Eric Powell) for performances worthy of Oscar® nominations.

Julia’s fervor is born in post-WW II Paris, where career diplomat Paul is attached to the American Embassy. “(But) what should I do?” She takes lessons in hat making and attempts to learn bridge before she enrolls at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu culinary school. Madame Brassart (Joan Juliet Buck) begrudgingly lets Julia switch to a professional level male-dominated class that releases her competitive juices. Julie’s ardor develops due to career frustration post-September 11, 2001 in her work at a call center dealing with post 9/11-issues. Following their move to a larger flat in Brooklyn, Eric encourages Julie to write; she decides on a blog that she calls The Julie/Julia Project. Julie sets a deadline for herself to recount cooking the 524 recipes from Julia Child’s two-volume Mastering the Art of French Cooking cookbook in 365 days.

Effervescent Julia gets to know Simone Beck (Linda Emond) and Louisette Bertholle (Helen Carey), who invite her to assist them teaching American women in Paris how to cook French cuisine. Julia shakes up their classes with her wit, knowledge and unaffected approach; the plot thickens when they ask Julia to work with them on a cookbook they are writing. “All my life I’ve been looking for a career” Julia enthuses to Paul. Anxious Julie’s fried nerves, further shaken after phone calls with her mom (Mary Kay Place, voice), are soothed when her blog finally produces a following. Eric gives Julie pearls at her rooftop birthday dinner (Julie is metamorphosing into Julia Child) while a friend suggests “I think you should do the Pay Pal thing (on your blog) then we can have more lobster.” Only best friend Sarah (zestfully played by Mary Lynn Rajskub) keeps Julie grounded in all aspects of her life.

We whisk back and forth between the continents and the nicely picked parallels in their lives with ease, thanks to the fluid editing of Richard Marks. Only Alexandre Desplat’s music is aggressively frothy. Director Nora Ephron’s screenplay uses the right ingredients: Julia Child’s My Life in France and Julie Powell’s Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen books. The film Ephron serves us is not only delightfully entertaining, it also makes us want to at least try Julia Child’s boeuf bourgignon recipe.

second opinion Julie & Julia ****
                                                          
Nora Ephron (When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, You've Got Mail), directs Meryl Streep (Devil Wears Prada, Mamma Mia) and Amy Adams (Enchanted, Night and the Museum 2) in a comedy based on the true lives of Julia Child and Julie Powell, and their respective memoirs My Life in France and Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously. Ephron also wrote the script.

Married to an adoring diplomat husband Paul (Stanley Tucci), Julia Child (Streep) arrived in Paris in 1949, where she discovered and fell totally in love with French cooking. With passion and determination she attended the Cordon Bleu school, then hooked up with two partners to produce the ultimate cook book for the 'servantless' American housewife. After nearly a decade, during which Julia accompanied Paul on his assignments in various countries, Mastering the Art of French Cooking (currently in its 49th edition) began its legendary journey towards the kitchens of the America.
In 2002, Julie Powell (Adams), a frustrated bureaucrat and writer, set herself the challenge of cooking every one of the 524 recipes in Child's book in 365 days. Encouraged by her husband Eric (Chris Messina), she starts a blog to record the adventure, captivating a growing readership along the way and culminating in her own book deal.

The movie weaves between Julia's years in Europe and Julie's cooking challenge fifty years later. The lives of both women are full of entertaining insights, moments of doubt, stumbles and, ultimately, success. They are bonded together by their love of delicious food – a love that fuels their intention and helps them overcome every obstacle along the way.

Julie & Julia is an all round fun movie, after which you'll probably want to be cooking a Boeuf Bourguignon at the very least. Meryl Streep is excellent as Julia Child, nailing her voice and mannerisms as only a master can.

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