Julie & Julia is a 2009 American comedy-drama film written and directed by Nora Ephron starring Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Stanley Tucci, and Chris Messina. The film contrasts the life of chef Julia Child in the early years of her culinary career with the life of young New Yorker Julie Powell, who aspires to cook all 524 recipes in Child's cookbook in 365 days, a challenge she described on her popular blog that made her a published author.
Ephron's screenplay is adapted from two books: My Life in France, Child's autobiography written with Alex Prud'homme, and a memoir by Powell, Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen (later retitled Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously). Both of these books were written and published in the same time frame (2004–06). Powell's book was based on her blog The Julie/Julia Project, where she had started documenting online her daily experiences cooking each of the 524 recipes in Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The film is the first major motion picture based on a blog.
In March 2008, Ephron began filming with Streep as Child and Adams as Powell. On July 30, 2009, the film officially premiered at the Ziegfeld Theatre in New York; and, on August 7, 2009, it opened throughout North America. It received positive reviews from critics, who praised Streep's performance. Streep and Adams previously starred together in Doubt (2008). Streep and Tucci previously starred together in The Devil Wears Prada (2006).
Julie & Julia was Ephron's last film before her death in 2012.
In 2002, Julie Powell (Adams) is a young writer with an unpleasant job at the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation's call center, where she answers telephone calls from victims of the September 11 attacks and members of the general public complaining about the LMDC's controversial plans for rebuilding the World Trade Center. To do something she enjoys, she decides to cook every recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking (1961) by Julia Child (Streep) in one year; Powell decides to write a blog to motivate herself and document her progress.
Woven into the story of Powell's time in Queens in the early 2000s is the story of Child's time in Paris throughout the 1950s, where she attends Le Cordon Bleu to learn French cooking and begins collaborating on a book about French cooking for American housewives. The plot highlights similarities in the women's challenges. Both women receive much support from their husbands, except when Powell's husband becomes fed up with her excessive devotion to her hobby and leaves her for a short time.
Eventually, Powell's blog is featured in a story published in The New York Times, after which her project begins to receive the attention of journalists, literary agents, publishers, and a dismissive response from Child herself. Although Child's book is rejected by Houghton Mifflin, it is accepted and published by Alfred A. Knopf. The last scene shows Powell and her husband visiting Child's kitchen at the Smithsonian Institution and Child in the same kitchen receiving a first print of her cookbook and celebrating the event with her husband.Meryl Streep as Julia Child
Amy Adams as Julie Powell
Stanley Tucci as Paul Child, Julia's husband
Chris Messina as Eric Powell, Julie's husband
Linda Emond as Simone Beck ("Simca"), with whom Julia wrote Mastering the Art of French Cooking
Helen Carey as Louisette Bertholle, co-author of Mastering the Art of French Cooking
Jane Lynch as Dorothy Dean Cousins, Julia's sister
Mary Lynn Rajskub as Sarah, Julie's friend.
Joan Juliet Buck as Madame Elisabeth Brassart of Le Cordon Bleu, where Julia studied French cooking
Amanda Hesser as herself
Deborah Rush as Avis DeVoto, Julia's long-time pen pal
Vanessa Ferlito as Cassie, Julie's acquaintance
Casey Wilson as Regina, Julie's acquaintance
Jillian Bach as Annabelle, Julie's acquaintance
Frances Sternhagen as Irma Rombauer
Françoise Lebrun as The Baker's Mother
Mary Kay Place as the voice of Julie's mother
The film received positive reviews from critics, and Streep's performance was highly acclaimed by critics. Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a score of 75% based on 212 reviews, with an average score of 6.7/10 with a "Certified Fresh" rating, and the site's critical consensus states: "Boosted by Meryl Streep's charismatic performance as Julia Child, Julie & Julia is a light, but fairly entertaining culinary comedy." Metacritic, which assigns a rating out of 100 top reviews from mainstream critics, gave it an average score of 66% based on 34 reviews.
Los Angeles Times critic Kenneth Turan commented, "[Julie & Julia] does it right. A consummate entertainment that echoes the rhythms and attitudes of classic Hollywood, it's a satisfying throwback to those old-fashioned movie fantasies where impossible dreams do come true. And, in this case, it really happened. Twice." The A.V. Club gave the film a C, explaining, "Julie & Julia is two movies in one. That’s one more movie than it needs to be." Entertainment Weekly gave it a B+. The review by Slate was also positive.
Streep has been widely praised for her performance as Child. Movie critic A. O. Scott of The New York Times affirmed that "By now [Streep] has exhausted every superlative that exists and to suggest that she has outdone herself is only to say that she's done it again. Her performance goes beyond physical imitation, though she has the rounded shoulders and the fluting voice down perfectly." Reviewer Peter Travers wrote in Rolling Stone that "Streep—at her brilliant, beguiling best—is the spice that does the trick for the yummy Julie & Julia." Similarly, Stephanie Zacharek of Salon concluded that "Streep isn't playing Julia Child here, but something both more elusive and more truthful—she's playing our idea of Julia Child."
On its opening weekend, the film opened #2 behind G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra with $20.1 million.
Julie & Julia was released on DVD and Blu-ray on December 8, 2009.