I guess Brooklyn is the new white lady capital of the world. How else to explain all the sold-out screenings of Julie and Julia?
Seriously, you guys. It took me three tries and two movie theaters to finally see this thing, which intercuts the story of Julia Child (Meryl Streep) writing her famous French cookbook with the story of Julie Powell (Amy Â Adams) writing her now-famous blog about cooking every recipe in Child’s collection.
And I know that The Devil Wears Prada and Mamma Mia! have made Meryl Streep the queen of the Alternative Summer Hit, but when I rolled up on Sunday afternoon (and again on Monday night at 7:15), I certainly wasn’t expecting to see lines out the door for her latest project. Sure, some of those people were buying tickets for G-Force: Hamsters With Guns, but the bulk of them were hankering for adult-oriented, female-centric fun. To avoid the throng, I finally had to see a 10:10 PM screening. Meaning I was out past midnight to watch people making lunch.
Well… okay. Julie and Julia isn’tÂ just about lunch. ItÂ alsoÂ has real substance.
The acceptable bitchiness of Julia Child… after the jump
My favorite moment comes near the end: After dedicating a year to Julia Child’s recipes, Julie enjoys some serious fame. Editors, reporters, and television producers light up her answering machine, and even her mother admits that her little project was a good idea. And then a reporter mentions that Julia Child herself has responded to the blog… and said nasty things. At first, of course, Julie is devastated, since Julia Child has become her patron saint. How can she go on if her hero doesn’t love her back?Â
Many films would answer that question with a present-day meeting between the two leads. There would be awkward hellos followed by tears and smiles and promises of cookies in the mail. But in this movie, Julie decides that the Julia Child in her head, the one who spurred her into a more satisfying life, is more important than the actualÂ Julia Child. She’s been wounded by her icon, but she doesn’t deny how her icon has helped her. (Here’s Powell discussingÂ her real-life reactionÂ to Child’s rebuff.)
That’s a complex response to a popcorn disaster. Things don’t work out perfectly, but they work out well. Julia Child can be a bitch, but she’s fantastic. Julie Powell can be obsessed with a celebrity, but she can fend for herself.Â
And really, the entire film is defined by that refusal to let problems become distractions. Large and small calamities assault these women in every frame—Julia’s husband gets investigated by Senator McCarthy, Julie almost loses her job—but the film is never about the roadblocks. Instead, it’s always about the work… about how both women are driven to finish their writing.
More importantly, it’s about how they live better lives because of theirÂ writing. They find personal satisfaction in their projects, and they both have husbands who love them for being interested in things.Â
And I’ve got to say… that’s my kind of escapism. When I see two ambitious, creative people get rewarded for their dedication, then I see exactly what I want for myself. It takes a lot of work to maintain The Critical Condition, you see, and I’m incredibly fortunate to have a partner who loves me for having that kind of drive.
So yeah… maybe it does make sense that Julie and Julia was sold out. There are a lot of people out there who are hurling themselves into their professions, and it’s nice when a movie tells us we’ve made an excellent choice.
Granted, the film isn’t perfect, but I’ll remember that sense of affirmation more than any of its flaws.