Julie and Julia

Julie and Julia

(PG) Sony DVD/BD

With soufflé-like perfection Meryl Street rises to the challenge of immortalising one of America’s cooking greats on the big screen in Julie and Julia.

Streep plays Julia Child, who co-authored Mastering the Art of French Cooking, which was published in 1961 and designed to introduce French cooking to the “servantless” cooks of America.

Child’s book inspires mid-level, New York-based bureaucrat Julie Powell (Amy Adams), whose heartbreaking job is to help people deal with the after-effects of 9/11. Her aim is to cook her way through the book (524 recipes in 365 days) and to blog about it.

Julie also tries to emulate Julia’s attitude to life and cooking, believing she was “fearless” and never horrible to her husband (Stanley Tucci).

The contrast between life in Paris (and other parts of the world) in the late 1940s and early ’50s and life in New York in 2002 is interesting. For example, in the first cordon bleu cooking class Julia attends she is the only (and frowned-upon) female. She also types her manuscript, makes carbon copies and has a pen pal she eventually meets face-to-face when she goes to America to try to stitch up a publishing deal.

Julie’s blog attracts readership fairly quickly thanks, perhaps, to its quirky premise and the viral nature of web publishing but when the New York Times publishes a piece about it (in its print version) the serious book offers start rolling in.

Julia’s first publishing advance was $250. Julie’s is $100,000.

I’m not a huge fan of true stories made into movies but this one works. Largely, it does so due to Streep’s nuanced, moving and delightful performance. So, whip up some boeuf bourguignon, pop this DVD in your player and, as Julia Child would say, Bon apetit!

Marjorie Lewis-Jones

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