In Julie & Julia, Meryl Streep is joyful, resplendent, lovely as Julia Child, the woman who brought French cooking to servantless Americans. Amy Adams (sob!) is ghastly as Julie Powell, the grasping, strident, petty, whining, self-obsessed, miserable and really quite horrid (oh, ok, one day I’ll come down off the fence and tell you what I really thought about her….) housewife who blogged about her experience of cooking Julia’s recipes. Think Babette’s Feast meets Mommie Dearest. There’s a pivotal moment towards the end of the movie when we learn that Ms. Child thinks Ms. Powell’s efforts are disrespectful. We’re supposed to know, I think, from watching the movie that that’s not the case. Actually, in reality, the entire movie leads us to believe quite deeply that the Julie character is a kind of psycho bridezilla, and everything in Julie’s life is only about Julie, which does indeed come across like a slap in the face to the refined Julia.
I expect though that one of the benefits of being Meryl Streep is that you get to choose where you film, and in spite of the inimitable French-ness of the story line, most of the drama was actually shot in and around New York City and its boroughs. I thought Montreal, but no, aside from some establishing shots, New York it was. The ultimate rooftop celebration, where we finally get to kiss that narcissist Julie a less-than-fond farewell, shot at 12-17 38th Avenue, Queens, New York City.
Oh and one last gripe: what is it about filmmakers and food? In order to express the working man’s appreciation of fine cuisine, we’re subjected to scene after scene of him shovveling plate-loads of gunk into his slack-jawed mouth, whilst continuing lively conversation – like some marauding Viking who’s just sacked St. Bede’s. I have never seen Americans eat like this (and I was trapped in a waiting room at a Denver dog shelter during a Pit Bull amnesty where every man woman and child wore tats and a wife-beater and drank hard liquor from hipflasks so I’ve been around manners.) So why the celluloid sham? It’s off-putting. Just stop it.