I never watched Julia Child on TV but word is that she was pretty diesel. She drank, was loose on screen and is credited for popularizing authentic French cuisine in America during the sixties with her book Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
Julie Powell was just some directionless woman who decided to cook every recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking and blog about it for a year starting in 2002.
In 2009, their two stories came together for Julie & Julia, an acceptable film starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. The strength of the film is that it is a sum of its parts. Neither storyline is powerful enough to carry an entire movie on its own, so the writers and producers skillfully wove the two together based on many parallels within their lives at the time of their adventures. Julie is in Queens, stuck in a rut trying to make sense of what her life has become, and Julia is in France, trying to fill her days with the best that the country has to offer.
From all accounts Meryl Streep is fabulous in the role, but it was hard for me to judge having no context for her performance. I know, a guy who likes food and never watched Julia Child? Whatever. There’s nothing particularly wrong with the film, but not a lot happens and the conflicts that the characters face are quite minor and easily resolved.
The most interesting part of the film and back story, isn’t even dealt with on screen. Julie Powell was really the first person to create a blog with a specific focus and intention–cooking recipes from one book. Now, this was back in 2002 when the term “blog” was hardly mainstream and, as she expresses in the film, a very self-indulgent and narcissistic endeavor. (And well, it still is if you put yourself as the center of each post.) Eight years later, every fuck-up and wannabe writer/chef/photographer/journalist/etc. has a blog and hopes to follow in Julie’s footsteps by getting notoriety and a book deal from their online publishings. The negative stigma and expectations of blogs has changed dramatically in just a few short years, for better, and worse. We have Julie to thank for pretty much every niche driven blog on the internet. She proved that they can be successful and can make you famous. I think the lesson is pick just one thing, stay focused, and write the best you can on that one topic. If the concept and execution are there, everything will fall into place.
Hmm. Maybe I should take my own advice.