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Starring:Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Stanley Tucci, Chris Messina, Linda Emond

Director:Nora Ephron

Writer(s):Nora Ephron, Julie Powell

Cinematography: Stephen Goldblatt 

Original Score:Alexandre Desplat

Running Time: 123 Mins.

The poster for Julie & Juliatells you all you need know about the kind of filmic experience you are in for, written and directed by Nora Ephron who gave us Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail and starring the always excellent and ever versatile Meryl Streep alongside the hugely likeable and just as talented Amy Adams in a film that we are told is “based on two true stories” there really is no way that if those factors entice you that you won’t find Julie & Julia anything less than enjoyable.

The main issue for us Brit’s is that by and large most people will not have a clue who the titular Julia Child was, and to an even lesser degree Julie Powell, so the supposedly fantastic portrayal of Julia Child is somewhat lost on us, but it is maybe to our advantage as an audience for the film becomes less about an impression of a cooking legend and more about simply enjoying a fresh and original story.

Living in Paris, France in the 1960’s with her American Diplomat husband (Stanley Tucci), Julia yearns for something to do in her spare time and you will be less than shocked to hear that thing is cooking, moving up the ransk Julia sees herself rise from eccentric housewife to celebrity chef over a matter of years bringing French cuisine to the American masses. Whilst back in the present day Julie Powell is a call centre worker answering calls to bereaved 9/11 family members and survivors, fast approaching 30 Julie seeks something of substance to do with her life and is prompted to write a blog working her way through Julia Child’s now world famous cookbook. Splitting time between both stories the film never really merges the two as well as it would like.

This becomes the main downfall and you do literally feel like your watching two extremel loosely related stories, this means one of the two suffers as the weaker plot-thread, you will be unsurprised to learn it is Julie’s story that often feels rather pointless and her goal is far too slight to fuel an hours worth of screen time, that said Adam’s is watchable as ever and in her Ephron has certainly found an actress that is the natural successor to Meg Ryan giving off her usual charm and adding layers to it that rise the performance above the material.

On the other hand is Streep who is now a stamp of quality for any film, she makes Julia as larger than life (literally and figuratively speaking) as is necessary without seeming like some kind of OTT caricature, despite my lack of familiarity with the woman herself, this means that while funny in her eccentric ways you empathize with Julia as much as the script allows, and therein lies the film’s other main problem, that many plot points are touched upon but never fully carried through making you question why they were even hinted at to begin with, and a plot strand that sees Julia’s sister visit and get married serves only to lengthen running time while not furthering the plot.

That aside the whole production has an air of charm and light-heartedness about it, saved by the fact that it never dallies to close to cliche in the relationship department, Julie and her husband (Chris Messina) are a joy to watch and avoid make the relationship feel realistic and happy at once without slipping into saccharine, but again it is with Julia and husband that the real warmth is to be found, Tucci and Streep work so well together, as they did in The Devil Wears Prada,   and resulting in me leaving the cinema with a smile, the goal I can’t help but feel Ephron was primarily trying to achieve.

VERDICT

While Julie & Julia is no revelatory true story and has some glaring flaws, there is a lot to be said of the talents of Streep and Adams that if nothing else you will leave the film with a grin that should negate the film’s misgivings.

grade-c

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