Julie & Julia review

Hot talent, lean cuisine…

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The reason blogs are so compulsive when you’re reading them illicitly at work is that they’re generally disposable, navel-gazing, microcosmic rants that make you feel better about your own life.

They’re not something that would make a great film because, well, they’re often not really about much. Which is where this foodie-female empowerment lick falls down.

Based on her real-life blog, it follows mousy NY housewife Julie Powell (played here by Amy Adams) as she attempts to escape her humdrum life by cooking all the recipes of legendary TV chef Julia Child during one year. Julie slaves over her boeuf bourguignon and aspic in comedic fashion, has a feeble fight with her hubby (Chris Messina) and, um, that’s it.

Meanwhile in a dual storyline, we’re introduced to Child (Meryl Streep) – an awkward, gigantic emu of a woman with an insatiable appetite who revolutionised ’60s American cuisine with her ebullient, no-nonsense approach to cordon bleu.

The two stories inevitably jostle for interest but Julia wins hands down thanks to Streep’s spirited and funny turn (complete with Child’s signature bizarre cadences) plus subtle support from Stanley Tucci as her adoring husband.

Yes, it’s another textbook display of Streep’s dexterity, but like a perfect crème brûlée, she takes simple ingredients and turns out a deliciously indulgent confection of bright, brittle exterior and sweet, gooey heart.

Back at the helm for the first time since the bedevilled Bewitched, Nora Ephron tries to inject some of her patented cutesy dazzle into Powell slaving over a hot stove (cue selfafirming speeches about whipping eggs). But she neglects the food-porn shots and, more importantly, a reason to care whether Powell’s souflé will rise.

The pace is so slow-braised that the year of cooking seems to pass in real time, and Adams’ usual charm is hindered by a bad wig and constant blubbing.

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Editor-in-Chief, Total Film

Jane Crowther is the Editor of Total Film magazine and the Editor-in-Chief of the Film Group here at Future Plc, which covers Total Film, SFX, and numerous TV and women's interest brands. Jane is also the vice-chair of The Critics' Circle and a BAFTA member. You'll find Jane on GamesRadar+ exploring the biggest movies in the world and living up to her reputation as one of the most authoritative voices on film in the industry.