"I could write a blog. I have thoughts"
The premise? This tasty movie parallels the lives of famous cook, Julia Child, and a wanna-be blogger, Julie Powell, chronologically alternating between their two stories.
In the 1950s, Julia Child, played by Academy Award Winner Meryl Streep, dutifully accompanies her husband to Paris, and finds herself in want of something useful to do with her time. Upon coming to the realization that her life's passion is eating, she sets out into the men's world of French culinary school. During the process, she discovers that she wants to share her skills and new found love of cooking with all of the "servantless American cooks." The result can likely be found in your grandmother's cookbook collection: "Mastering the Art of French Cooking."
In 2002, Julie Powell, a would-be writer played by Amy Adams, is stuck in a thankless office job and living with her husband in Long Island City, Queens. She gives herself a challenge: to cook her way through Julia Child's cookbook in one year (524 recipes in 365 days) and write a blog about it.
It is no surprise ending that Powell's blog became a success, or the movie would never have been made. Her success is secondary to her emotional transformation. Having admitted to never finishing anything significant in her life, this really is a story about finishing what you start...taking risks, following your passion, and discovering yourself along the journey.
We live in a McDonald's society of microwave meals, where producing one of Rachel Ray's 30-Minute-Meals seems like a great culinary accomplishment. For many "servantless American cooks," the idea of creating a meal from scratch sounds extremely daunting, if not impossible. However, the title of Julia Child's book alone promises that one might be able to actually master the art of French cooking, simply by following the directions. The art. Art, which takes discipline - not to mention time. Perhaps this is what so many people desire: to follow directions and have the outcome look just like the pretty pictures you see in cooking magazines. To master something complex and meaningful. To improve and better oneself. Perhaps this is also the reason Julia Child's cookbook currently finds itself on the New York Times Bestseller List. All the publicity of the movie probably didn't hurt, either.
This movie would certainly be considered a comedy. Most comedies these days fall into one of two categories: a romantic comedy, or a movie made by the guys who brought you Superbad. How refreshing to find a comedy which at its core doesn't have the leading lady swept off her feet by some tall-dark-and-handsome dimple-faced piece of man-candy with three-day-old stubble. Instead, we have TWO strong, independent women who are swept off their feet by, quite simply, the joy of cooking. And for those who are suckers for a good romantic comedy, do not despair. Perhaps the most tender scene in the movie comes when Paul Child raises a toast to his wife at a dinner party (three guesses on who cooked the meal) and simply says: "You are the butter to my bread, the breath to my life."
With heaps of butter, a dash of McCarthyism, and a healthy portion of Feminism, this movie isn't simply a platform to showcase yet another brilliant character portrayed by Meryl. Of course she was brilliant - we expected nothing less. Beyond leaving with renewed faith in Meryl's ability to delight her audiences, I walked away feeling inspired, empowered, and hopeful - none of which had to do with Meryl, and all of which had to do with the movie's underlying theme: "With the right combination of passion, fearlessness, and butter - anything is possible."
Tiffany Rosenquist lives in New York, where she works at Carnegie Hall in Special Events which raise money for the Hall's artistic and education programming. She cooks with real butter.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/1816