Review and competition: Julie & Julia

Your chance to win the DVD and cookbook

Meryl Streep in Julie & Julia

Amy Adams in Julie & Julia

Julie & Julia DVD and bookStarring: Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Stanley Tucci
Writer/Director: Nora Ephron
Price: £19.99 (Amazon price: £12.98)
Released: March 8th 2010

Calling all foodies! Slight departure from the normal TMINE fare, I know, but I refuse to be confined to one little box – here’s your chance to win a copy of Julie & Julia, starring Meryl Streep as famous US TV chef (ah, see the TMINE link now?) and writer Julia Child and Amy Adams (you know, off Enchanted, Sunshine Cleaning et al) as a blogger who tries to make all the recipes in Childs’ magnum opus Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a year.

Review and competition details after the trailer.

Plot
A culinary legend provides a frustrated office worker with a new recipe for life in Julie & Julia, the true stories of how Julia Child’s (Meryl Streep) life and cookbook inspired fledgling writer Julie Powell (Amy Adams) to whip up 524 recipes in 365 days and introduce a new generation to the magic of French cooking. Stanley Tucci (The Devil Wears Prada) co-stars in director Nora Ephron’s delicious comedy about joy, obsession and butter. Bon appétit!

Is it any good?
The movie is actually based on two books, one by Julia Child describing how she became a Cordon Bleu cook in France, the other by blogger Julie Powell, describing her experiences of following Julia Child’s recipe book for a year. Since the stories are set on two different continents and are separated by more than 40 years, the movie jumping between them – think Sleepless and Seattle, another Nora Ephron movie, for the movie’s general structure – we almost have two movies here.

Each of these movies is reasonably well handled by writer/director Nora Ephron. The more interesting of the two strands is Child’s, with Meryl Streep giving an incredibly accurate performance as Child – if you’re British and don’t know her, think the US equivalent of Fanny Craddock or a cross between Delia Smith and Keith Floyd. Or watch this YouTube clip of her in action:

We learn about how Child came to France – her husband, Paul, was a US diplomat – why she started to learn Cordon Bleu cooking, how she was approached to write a book about French cooking for Americans, and how it eventually came to be published.

The second strand mostly sees Adams, a failed novelist who works in a cubicle post-9/11 trying to help people who have lost loved ones or been injured as a result of the attacks on New York. To get back into writing, she takes up blogging and since she always gives up at everything, she commits to a deadline of one year to make all of Julia Child’s recipes.

Themes
The movie is essentially about women ‘finding themselves’. Child needs something to do while her husband is working, and sadly the baby she wants so badly never arrives. She discovers she loves food, and decides to learn to cook. She can’t find a book in English that teaches French cooking so she enrolls herself on a course; soon, she’s running her own course together with two Frenchwomen she meets – who are trying to write a book for Americans about French cooking.

Powell feels like a failure compared to her friends, who all have high-flying jobs; one even has a blog that’s being turned into a Showtime TV series. Envious, she starts up her own blog, and through it, learns not only how to cook, but also how much she loves her husband. Eventually, she gets famous and she ends up writing that book she always wanted to write.

In common with other Ephron films, the movie is also about women’s relationships, both with women and men. Unlike in other Ephron movies – and whether it’s because this is based on real-life stories, rather than Ephron’s own imagination, or for some other reason – the relationships women have with women are far more antagonistic and lacking in nurturing support than usual, and the relationships the two women have with their husbands is far nicer and more supportive. Child and her co-authors squabble about who should get more credit on the books, because one of their number isn’t pulling her weight; Powell’s mother is constantly belittling her, her friends look down on her and she gets stitched up by an article written by a female journalist friend of hers.

By contrast, Child’s husband (Tucci) is endlessly supportive and patient, encourages her to follow her dreams and even ends up building a custom kitchen for her to cope with her 6’2″ height; Powell’s husband is almost as tolerant, listening to her fears and worries and supporting her throughout. If there is a real theme for the movie overall, it’s “all you need is love”, whether that’s love for your partner or love for cooking.

Ephron is also someone who likes to write about writers – most of her movies feature journalists either as central characters or friends of the central character. For anyone who’s ever blogged, the feelings Powell espouses about blogging will be familiar: the fear no one’s reading, the discipline needed to write regularly, the worry that people might be relying on you and, of course, the distant hope you’ll end up getting read by people who can give you lots of money – or at least a little bit.

Comedy-drama?
Maybe it’s the fact these are based on true stories that make this a less satisfying movie than you might hope. There are some funny lines and some poignant and some delightful moments. The performances are excellent and yes, there is actual location footage of both New York and Paris to enjoy (as well a few shots clearly not in either city, but they’re few and far between).

But there’s no real reason for the two separate stories to be stuck together. It doesn’t say anything new. The two stories, despite Ephron’s best efforts, don’t really mirror each other – Child definitely did transform American cooking with her book, but can the same be said about Powell’s blobblog/book? There are no conclusions drawn. Child’s story finishes when her book is published – we never see her get her TV show, learn about the book’s reception or how its reception affected her. Powell’s story finishes when her year of cooking has passed. It’s merely two biopics stuck together and ending at arbitrary points.

Nevertheless, it’s enjoyable and even heart-warming, if a little longer than it needs to be given the story choices made. And it should give bloggers hoping to get published heart at least.

Rating: 3.5/5

DVD bonuses
Languages: English, Italian
Subtitles: English (hard of hearing), English, Danish, Finnish, Hindi, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish
Extras: There’s a commentary track by Nora Ephron, as well as a “Making Of” documentary.

The competition
Yes, you, gentle reader, now have the chance to win Julie & Julia on DVD. In fact, you also get the chance to win the accompanying limited edition Penguin book which includes 30 recipes from Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. All you have to do to enter the competition is leave a comment below before 11.59pm GMT on March 4th (you can leave a comment below anyway, but if you don’t want to enter the competition, let me know!) and using the mighty power of the Internet random number generator, I’ll pick a winner. Bear in mind that the DVD is Region 2, but if you live outside Europe, I’m still willing to send it to you if you reckon you can play it.

  • SK

    I think the misspelling of ‘blog’ as ‘blob’ is an excellent Freudian slip and one I may use myself.

  • Well look, Rob. I have to win this competition.
    a) My real name is Julia. And do you KNOW how few films/books there are with a heroine who shares my name? (apart from Julia Flyte/Julia in 1984 and the film Julia). And this film has two.
    b) I blog
    c) I also cook
    d) although I am not famous for either pursuit
    e) I promised by daughter I’d take her to see it and we never got round to it.
    Therefore this film belongs to me.
    That is all.

  • My name isn’t Julia, and though I have too many blogs, none of them are about cooking and I don’t have a daughter.
    Nevertheless I heart Amy Adams. Does that help?

  • TemplarJ

    I really don’t like Meryl Streep. I admit, she always give a strong acting performance but I can never engage with her, I find her a cold, mechanical presence. Like a CGI ‘great actor’ programme. Give me Glenn Close any day.

  • T Bielby

    Random number generator pick me!

  • Catherine Owen

    Would love to win, please enter me! Was meant to see it a couple of months ago, but there was a problem so we had to watch The Ugly Truth insted, but this would be my chance to finally see it!

  • Julie Cook

    OOo i’m a cook who cooks who collects cook books!

  • Julie Henderson

    i am a Julie and this sounds fantastic – would be sooooo much nicer than Ali G – Me Julie – It drove me madddddddd 🙁

  • legs21

    [this is good] Would love to win, please enter me!

  • Alan Watson

    Aspiring cook, need this book.

  • Lisbeth

    why not me, my husband thinks I am lucky and can win

  • C Hui

    Sounds nice. Been meaning to see this movie but never had the chance.

  • Ivan

    Great I would love this

  • heather shaw

    I love to cook but hate to be given cook books. They all have the same things in them and there is only one way (really) to make a cake!

  • Allan Middleton

    I would like to be entered in the draw.

  • Lucy Pugh

    count me in please!

  • cathryn johnson

    [this is good] I love this film its great me and my sister watched twice at the cinema would so love to win this prize!!

  • FionaLynne Edwards

    Mmmm – hope there are some vegetarian recipes in there!

  • Nikki Clark

    Ooh la la, enter me in this draw s’il vous plait!

  • Anne

    I have been looking forward to seeing this movie since I first read about it. fingers crossed.

  • loved this film – well what i saw of it, unfortunately i fell asleep in the cinema, so would love to win a copy to see how it turns out, thanks

  • Clare

    cant cook, hubby says please win

  • KEith

    ooooo cookery books!

  • toni austin

    Please pick me, i never win anything!!! I love to bake and my boys love to cook with me too. I had tickets to see this film but my son was ill so i couldn’t go, it looks fab though.

  • Beverley

    My mum really wanted to see this and missed it and her birthday is coming up!

  • HAZEL g

    would love to win fingers crossed

  • Andrea

    I love cooking and I love watching DVD’s, but which is better?
    There’s only one way to find out…
    Let me win!!!

  • R.Mellor

    Would love this book to learn tot cook:)

  • Phil D

    I’ve gone through life fancing most (if not all) Julie’s and Julia’s I’ve met.

  • Julie Taylor

    I would so love to win this prize! x

  • Alison Eardley

    [this is good] I would like to win this because I’ve not seen it yet and it looks really good.

  • dorothy merrett

    [this is good]

  • Vanessa

    I really want to see this film.

  • zoe

    I really want to see this!
    love both Meryl Streep and Amy Adams!

  • Samira

    [this is good] me me me!

  • Mary Lucking

    The film was very good and I would love to try some of the recipes.

  • Jo

    wish I could cook! x

  • Vanessa

    I enjoyed Meryl Streep’s part of this film, but I left the cinema absolutely starving!

  • Andrew Dommett

    [this is good] Meryl Streep is the best actress around.

  • Tolu Imonioro

    me please!

  • Laura

    [I bow to your (much greater) wisdom, Rob] enter me into the comp please!

  • Jacqueline Simpson

    Come on Rob! My budget is so tight that if I don’t win this it means I wont get to watch it until all 3 kids have grown up. Please choose me.

  • Claire Jessiman

    [this is good] please pick me to win – great film nom nom nom

  • bishopsgirl

    Love to win this to give to my mam.

  • Solange

    Would love to win, please enter me!

  • taryn

    wow what a fab comp would love to win this

  • Anonymous

    Loved the book but didn’t get around to seeing the film so would love a copy to watch at home

  • David Sweet

    Entry for me please

  • flyingfresian

    I would love to win this! I loved the film and need all the help I can get with my cooking…

    • Paul Marshall

      [this is good] I am a budding cook too and in need of inspiration!

  • Colin Doogan

    please pick me to win

    • cathy james

      would love to win this, missed the film when it came out

  • Anonymous

    I cosmically ordered it !

    • Deborah Corlett

      I’d like to win! 😀

  • Michael Cross

    A winner, Moi?

  • Vanessa Cox

    Please pick me as I love cooking and entertaining!

  • DESPERATELY NEED THIS

  • Victoria Boland

    I would love to win this.

  • Anonymous

    please enter me!

  • Andrea

    please enter me!

  • susannah southurst

    love to see this film

  • Deborah Curwen

    Would love to win! Please enter me 🙂

  • Janet broughton

    Hello, Please enter me in the prize draw. Thankyou.

  • Jason Bateman

    Move over Gordon Ramsey you goon 🙂

    • clare

      I need this for some inspiration to fatten up

  • REBECCA TOWNSEND

    [this is good] Please enter me

  • Robin Brooksbank

    [das ist gut]

  • Vicky C

    Would love to see this, thanks for the competition

  • Gilla

    I love recipes and cookery books. I even cook from them at times! although I usually take the idea of a meal and go from there!

  • Kim Johnson

    [this is good] l bet Meryl Streep never does her own cooking at home

  • Dee

    Got a friend called Julie that loved this film & would love to have it for her forthcoming significant birthday!!

  • Alison

    Would love to win, please enter me

  • JULIE PANNELL

    [this is good] LOVD THIS PLEASE LET ME WIN

  • shane weir

    i need this in my life

  • linda wiles

    Looks like a good film

  • Mark Shaw

    [this is good] Would love to win this book and cook up some of those recipes.

  • Martine

    I missed this at the cinema and would love to see it.

  • Ceri Morgan

    Meryl Streep is one of my favourites !

  • Georgina Ball

    I think Meryl Streep is a fab actress, I bet the film is great!

  • Carole Glover

    Meryl Streep is my fave actress. Fingers crossed.

  • Christina Curtis

    :o)

  • Barbara Smith

    Looks good!
    Hope I win 🙂

  • Kerry

    Fab competition – fingers crossed everyone!

  • maria

    great – looks a good film.

  • maria

    great – looks a good film.

  • Rhian Bailey

    I am really into cooking at the moment; although, admittedly, it’s more yummy cupcakes than gourmet cuisine. I’d really like to win this though! 🙂

  • Rhian Bailey

    I am really into cooking at the moment; although, admittedly, it’s more yummy cupcakes than gourmet cuisine. I’d really like to win this though! 🙂

  • Rob Eves

    [this is good] Would be intrigued!

  • Rob Eves

    [this is good] Would be intrigued!

  • Sarah Whittington

    [this is good] Would love to win, please enter me!

  • Sarah Whittington

    [this is good] Would love to win, please enter me!

  • Sarah Jackson

    Heard good things about this film on the World Service. Looking forward to seeing for myself. S

  • Sarah Jackson

    Heard good things about this film on the World Service. Looking forward to seeing for myself. S

  • Kimberley Howes

    This is a great film, i saw it in cinema , Id love to own it 🙂

  • Kimberley Howes

    This is a great film, i saw it in cinema , Id love to own it 🙂

  • Kerrie Morley

    [I bow to your (much greater) wisdom, Rob] id really like to win this, please enter me!!

  • Kerrie Morley

    [I bow to your (much greater) wisdom, Rob] id really like to win this, please enter me!!

  • Spencer Reed

    Good prize, enter me as well!

  • Spencer Reed

    Good prize, enter me as well!

  • Natalie Henderson

    Would love to win this! I love cooking so much!! 🙂

  • Ruth Worthington

    Blob – I know a good recipe for one of those !

  • Michelle Williams

    [this is good] Great comp, please enter me.

  • Michelle Williams

    [this is good] Great comp, please enter me.

  • Alison Cameron

    grandchildren would love it

  • Alison Cameron

    grandchildren would love it

  • susie new

    [this is good]

  • Judith Luscombe

    [this is good] Would be grateful if you could enter me for this one.

  • Karen Barrett

    [it’s not in the Sun so it can’t be true]

  • Lee Clark

    good stuff

  • Lee Clark

    good stuff

  • Julie

    [this is good] I loved this film

  • Julie

    [this is good] I loved this film

  • Jen

    [esto es genial] i would love to win this…

  • Jen

    [esto es genial] i would love to win this…

  • Christopher Bell

    Looooove cooking so much and would really like this!

  • Christopher Bell

    Looooove cooking so much and would really like this!

  • Dan Caldon

    Definitely would be very useful to give me new ideas of things to cook and try out

  • Dan Caldon

    Definitely would be very useful to give me new ideas of things to cook and try out

  • jennie stallard

    i wanted to see julie and julia at the cinema but was unable to go. I love Meryl Streep so the prize is an excellent choice.

  • jennie stallard

    i wanted to see julie and julia at the cinema but was unable to go. I love Meryl Streep so the prize is an excellent choice.

  • sarah bailey

    [this is good] Hello,,,, I would love this dont do much cooking and never seen the film be a good way to start!

  • sarah bailey

    [this is good] Hello,,,, I would love this dont do much cooking and never seen the film be a good way to start!

  • Dawn Ann Totton

    Brilliant competition – good luck everyone!!! 🙂

  • Dawn Ann Totton

    Brilliant competition – good luck everyone!!! 🙂

  • Danielle Graves

    I’d love to win I really would even though I’m not that great a cook x

  • Danielle Graves

    I’d love to win I really would even though I’m not that great a cook x

  • Carolina

    I’d love to win! Thank you!

  • Carolina

    I’d love to win! Thank you!

  • Laura Bernstone

    I’d love to win this, looks like a great film!

  • Laura Bernstone

    I’d love to win this, looks like a great film!

  • Barbara Webster

    Excellent prize, enter me in your competition please!!Thanks

  • Jo Smith

    My daughter is a huge Meryl Streep fan, ever since she saw Mamma Mia, and we now have a very big Streep DVD collection, even films that I’ve never heard of before! She would be delighted if I won this competition…..thank you 🙂

  • Jo Smith

    My daughter is a huge Meryl Streep fan, ever since she saw Mamma Mia, and we now have a very big Streep DVD collection, even films that I’ve never heard of before! She would be delighted if I won this competition…..thank you 🙂

  • wendy jamieson-price

    [I bow to your (much greater) wisdom, Rob] bring it on!!!!!

  • wendy jamieson-price

    [I bow to your (much greater) wisdom, Rob] bring it on!!!!!

  • Sarah Williams

    [Rob, have I mentioned that I love you, lately?]

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  • “[this is good] Would love to win, please enter me!”
    who won

  • MediumRob

    “”[this is good] Would love to win, please enter me!”who won”
    The link to the results is under “Related entries” above. But I’ve put it here as well.

  • MediumRob

    “”[this is good] Would love to win, please enter me!”who won”
    The link to the results is under “Related entries” above. But I’ve put it here as well.

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