Julie and Julia: Film Review from 30,000 Feet

Mastering the Art of French CookingI must have had an inkling we’d be sitting on the tarmac at Charles-de-Gaulle airport for an hour before take off when I switched on Emirates A380 touch screen Inflight Communication and Entertainment and selected Julie and Julia on the digital widescreen. After all, it was the finale to the five week long celebratory holiday, a culinary and cultural trip that spanned Dubai, London, parts of Sicily, Veneto and Lombardia, culminating in a week in Paris.

Ahh… Paris. I always get a lump in my throat when I depart. And what better way to bid it au revoir than with a sweet taste of remembrance by watching a movie that celebrates the passion of cooking French food.

Or so I thought.

Set in two different eras, Julie and Julia tells the story of two women separated by time and joined by their passion for French cooking. Julie is a food blogger who undertakes a project cooking all of Julia Child’s recipes from her book Mastering the Art of French Cooking in one year.

Merryls Streep’s performance of Julia Child was praise-worthy although I found her to be caricaturish at times. Her flamboyant character exuded a joie de vivre, a passion for life that translated into her love of food. She’s a strong, determined woman who has hidden great pain and put her energy into becoming a cordon bleu chef.

Julie Powell’s character came across as vacuous and dysfunctional, lacking any real depth to draw me to her. For someone who is supposedly a blogger, a writer and passionate about French food, three attributes that should make us kindred spirits, I felt no passion from her. Whether it was the food, the cooking or the enjoyment of eating, she exuded nothing but a whiny determination to get an assignment completed on time. And that was the movie’s downfall.

Not expecting an arty French cinematic piece but a Hollywood chick flick, I still found the film disappointing. The two women were like chalk and cheese, and the loose parallels that director Nora Ephron tried to truss had me wishing more scenes were devoted to the Julia Child part than Julie’s self-obsessions and contrived chore.

Furthermore, the movie lacked a climax for that feel-good sensation or rather the sweet taste of dessert after a plain meal. Leaving a knob of butter behind at Julia Child’s kitchen exhibit at the Smithsonian was as bland as Amy Adams’ performance.

The story carried premise and promised passions. But like a soufflé that began to rise then collapsed the minute you removed it from the oven, the movie left me feeling deflated.

Aside: The well loved tomes featured in the photograph belong to Mr G. They have been in his possession long before we had met and they have often served as good reference material for techniques and ingredients. Although some of the recipes are difficult to follow by today’s standards, the books have played an fundamental part in my early culinary development.


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About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is the Founder/Editor of popular online magazine Gourmantic and Cocktails & Bars, a website dedicated to cocktail culture and the discerning drinker. She is named in Australian Bartender Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential List since 2013, is a member of The Academy responsible for judging the World’s 50 Best Bars. She has also judged the inaugural Australasian Whisky Awards and various national cocktail competitions.


  • Ah, a blog that shares my own passions of food and travel! Just stumbled across your blog and I am impressed with how much and how widely you’ve travelled! Will be reading your articles with interest..

    • Forager: Hello and welcome 🙂 Thank you for the kind comment. Always lovely to come across someone who shares the same passions. I look forward to discovering more about your blog as well.

  • Ah, an insightful review. I caught this film on the flight back from Cancun last week, as well. I share your sentiments, but was assured by my seatmate that “the book was much better”. Not sure I’ll get around to it, though. I’ve already donated enough of my life to this narrative! 🙂

    • Daniel: Your comment made me chuckle! I wouldn’t invest any more time on it either. I did check out the blog that Julie had kept at the time, and even that too confirmed my opinion of the movie.
      Good to see you back here again 🙂

  • I have to agree. Reading Julie Powell’s book, you realise she’s a lot more unpleasant in real life than she is depicted in the film. I’d have to disagree with the idea that she loves french food, I don’t think she does, I think it was just an exercise in proving that she could complete something!

    • Reemski: You’re one up on me if you’ve read the book. Skimming her blog entries was enough of a deterrent. I also found it a little difficult to believe that she was able to afford all the ingredients to cook those recipes every day for a year. Weren’t they struggling to live in the tiny apartment?
      And yes, absolutely. The determination was to prove she could finish something, the love of French cuisine came secondary to her almost obsession with accomplishment and Julia Child.

  • I watched this on the flight to Japan recently! I must say I didn’t like Julie Powell’s character, though I learned more about Julia Child and thought Meryl Streep was pretty good…

    • Helen: Goes to show how her lacking is lacking, particularity that she didn’t appeal to us foodies. I could have watched the entire movie on Julia Child and her husband!