Directed by Nora Ephron. US. 2009. PG-13. 123 min.
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“Julie & Julia, directed by Nora Ephron, is only partly a movie about Julia Child. Ephron adapted the script from two sources: Child’s posthumously published 2006 memoir (co-written with Alex Prud’homme) “My Life in France” and Julie Powell’s entertaining, soufflé-light memoir — from which the movie gets its name — a recounting of the year Powell spent cooking every recipe in Child’s 1961 classic “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” (Powell’s book got its start as a blog hosted by Salon.)
“…Ephron does the smart thing in “Julie & Julia” and lets Streep carry the day, with a minimum of embellishment. Streep is too often praised for her ability to master an accent, which is evidence of her discipline. But a good performance has to offer more than just proof of how much work you’ve put into it, and Streep is always at her best when she makes it all look easy, instead of advertising how difficult it is. Her exacting, actressy turn in last year’s Doubt is an example of the worst kind of Streep performance. What she does here, in its lightness and outright glee, is the best kind.
Streep uses her gift for mimicry to make the link between Julia as pop-culture presence and human being. Just listening to Streep is pure joy: She gets the way Julia’s voice resembled the unself-conscious chortling of an extremely happy bird. And Ephron and Streep both trust their instincts in one of the movie’s best scenes: Julia’s inability to have children is handled in one brief, essentially wordless moment between her and her husband. That moment, like much of the movie around it, is about the business of getting on with life, and of cooking as one of the most pleasurable ways to sustain it. That’s as true in Queens as it is in Paris, which was Julia Child’s point all along.” (Stephanie Zacharek, Salon.com)