In 1929 French Indochina, a French teenage girl embarks on a reckless and forbidden romance with a wealthy, older Chinese man, each knowing that knowledge of their affair will bring drastic consequences to each other.
Tony Leung Ka Fai,
Julia Child and Julie Powell - both of whom wrote memoirs - find their lives intertwined. Though separated by time and space, both women are at loose ends... until they discover that with the right combination of passion, fearlessness and butter, anything is possible. Written by
Ms. Streep's performance alone makes this film worthwhile--in recent years she has really shown her great talent as a comedian (Adaptation, Devil Wears Prada, this film). She has great comic timing, and always goes just far enough for the laugh, and usually not too far that it feels staged or unnatural.
From the reviews I read, I was really expecting not to like the "Julie" half of this movie--but I was pleasantly surprised. I read both "Julie and Julia" and "My Life in France" earlier this summer, and I have to confess that I didn't love the Julie Powell book. Amy Adams really brings this character to life and makes you care about her (more so, I think than the book did). One problem with the balance in this project is that Julia Child did something really important for cooking in America, and so her story is inherently interesting. Julie Powell wrote a book. That became a movie. Add to that the fact that the heavy hitters in the film all live on the Julia side--Streep, Stanley Tucci, and a great cameo by Jane Lynch--and the deck feels fully stacked. Full credit to Amy Adams and Chris Messina, then, for making us care about the half of the film that teetered on the edge of the perfunctory.
This film is all the more remarkable in that it is so rare to see a film these days that just revels in joie-de-vivre. I'm sure a lot of the rough edges of Julia's personality are smoothed over--but some of the stressful moments are there. I just felt so much affection for Streep's Julia Child in this movie--and I laughed repeatedly and heartily at her antics. A fun time at the movies--which is a rarer pleasure than it should be.
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