Recipe for a delightful movie:
Meryl Streep as Julia Child
2 good marriages
Mix ingredients in Paris and NYC. Spice with a pinch of rejection. Then add 2 book deals. Serve to an audience of bloggers, cooks, gourmands and people old enough to have watched Julia Child on TV.
Julie & Julia is a movie about an ordinary woman, Julie Powell, who cooked her way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child (1961.) Julie cooked all 524 recipes in 365 days while working full time(!) She blogged about the experience. The other half of the movie follows Julia Child to Paris with her diplomat husband in the 1950s. Julia falls in love with French food, learns to cook at the Cordon Bleu and decides to bring classic French cooking to Americans by writing a cook book.
My mother used to watch Julia Child on TV, and Mastering the Art of French Cooking was on our kitchen bookshelf. After college, I lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts. For special occasions my husband Henry and I shopped at Savenor’s, Julia’s butcher. We hoped to run into her near the ostrich steaks but never did.
Even though I can’t eat classic French cooking (I’m lactose intolerant,) Julia was my introduction to the love of fine food. There was the promise that gourmet food can be made by anyone. Well, anyone with a block of butter, a butcher knife and six hours spare time!
Reviews in The New Yorker and the NYT stated that the Julie/blogger part couldn’t match the Julia/chef part of the movie. The reviewers claimed that Meryl Streep doesn’t do a fine impersonation of Julia Child; she IS Julia. This was true. The screen lit up with Julia/Meryl in Paris. Julie's attempt to cook Julia’s recipes in just one year was a fun premise for a blog but didn’t work as well as a movie plot. Especially because the character in the movie was whiny and self-involved.
As a blogger, I was hoping to see more about the blogging community. Hollywood portrays Julie as an isolated journalist counting her comments and tracking her stats. My personal experience is that blogging is all about the interactive community of commenters AND other bloggers. True, Julie was blogging back in 2002, when most people didn’t even know what a blog was. There weren’t hyperlinks on the profiles to connect bloggers back then. But didn’t Julie have a few blog buddies?
I checked out a bunch of blogs before I started mine in January 2007; one was Julie Powell. Her blog was an inspiration to me, especially her fairytale story of going from “secretary” to “author,” thanks to her popular blog. Then Julie got a movie deal. In reality this doesn’t happen often, but this was a rare, true Hollywood moment.
One part of blogging that the movie captured well was the supportive/exasperated husband. They have an argument in which he shouts something like: “Are you going to put this fight on your blog?!” My husband thought this scene was hilarious. Henry, a master chef in our kitchen, loved all the cooking scenes too.