Saturday, August 15, 2009

Julie & Julia

Wende and I went off to see Julie & Julia today. I'll spare you the details of how I managed to be late and found her in a darkened theater only when I said to myself "That is a familiar silhouette of creamy skin fading into blackness---and is it waving an arm at me? Oh yes, it is!"

We agreed with the reviews; the parts about the Childs in Paris are wonderful and the parts about Julie Powell are extremely bland. My irritation is that the script completely defanged her. There was just no tension at all, which if you read the book and the blog you will recall Powell's life at the time was all about tension. She was miserable. And the project just made her more miserable and unhinged the farther she got into it, but in the end gave her confidence in herself that she was lacking. It was her personal stint in the army--you know, the experience you go through that teaches you you have deep inner reserves of strength. Or confirms you are completely a loser, at which point you join a cult or shoot yourself in the head. I realized that having a main character whose favorite words are variations on the word "fuck" will never get you a PG-13 rating, but there were aspects of her story that Nora Ephron could have incorporated to give her some interest and texture.

  • Powell was 30 years old, and when her parents came up from Texas to help her move and her husband move, she was deeply ashamed and uncomfortable about the fact that they were not anywhere near as settled or successful as her parents had been at the same age. They moved to Queens because it was cheap and they had no money. One of their cats lived in the ceiling, which was good because the PYTHON took up a lot of the living room.

  • Julie Powell was also so broke that she sold her eggs, a decision I personally abhor, but hey--that's color for you.

  • She had a lot of trouble adjusting to the whole working world/real life thing after being great at school and finding her way, which they lightly touch on but never fully explore.

  • This project was extremely expensive, took a helluva lot of time and energy just shopping for (and even just finding) the ingredients and was a real hardship in terms of the family budget.

  • She was a picky eater. This project made her eat eggs. And BRAINS. And all sorts of organ meats. At least they could have explored the grossness of some of the project.

  • She loved her husband and they were/are well suited, but they were high school sweethearts and stable marrieds in a city filled with single people in search of hot sexy times.

Instead of exploring any of that, even briefly, the movie has a lot of Amy Adams looking cute as she stares at a computer. Waste of talent, as she is an excellent actor who conveys subtle charm in some otherwise annoying characters.

So in short, worth catching on DVD or at the $5 morning movie.

1 comment:

Cookbook said...

I agree with your assessment. The Julia portions of the movie were amazing. Meryl Streep = OMG flawless.

I didn't like the Julie character, and I think the reason why relates to my basic dislike of Nora Ephron's female protagonists: they are all wishy-washy, caricatures of what women are supposed to be like. When you watch the movie you have no idea how much Julie Powell's life really sucked, it all seems like misdirected existential angst. Silliness, really.