Julie & Julia
I’m really starting to dislike Meryl Streep and her recent change of direction in acting roles. Once known for her dramatic character acting, even she seemed aware that she was never going to be sexy, being far too self-aware and calculated in her movements for that to every be a viable option. She has never even possessed the ability to fully assimilate herself into a role, the running gag for me personally, being that it will be Streep you notice first and the role second. So what drove her to engage in this recent spat of comedic roles, especially in such mind numbing drivel as Julie & Julia, which she’s now won a Golden Globe for? These same hinderances are something that kills any humour.
The plot centres on Julie Powell (played by a rather unstable Amy Adams) who is about to turn 30, a writer who can’t get her manuscript published and who handles calls from victims of the 9/11 attacks, along with those who simply don’t agree with plans to rebuild the towers. Believing that she must finish something, she creates a blog with the goal of cooking every recipe from Julia Child’s Mastering The Art of French Cooking within a year. Woven within this is the story of Julia herself (awkwardly portrayed by Streep) and her beginnings as a chef in Paris and how her book came to be published.
There exists nothing particularly interesting or even conventional within the script, with this becoming a story solely about Childs with Powell (and Adams as a result), becoming a nervous wreck, seeking to emulate a character who appears to be nothing more than a caricature; what an American audience would expect the beloved chef to be in real life. Powell’s inclusion appears nothing more than a cheap ploy to attract an audience unfamiliar with Childs and attach even more unnecessary reverence to her. Even the simple inclusion of both being in happy marriages means that the story cannot fit into a conventional romantic comedy format and as a result, the movie scrapes for any sense of drama or progression, so much so that the actual reaction of the chef to the young writer is left until the movies final moments and goes uncharacteristically ignored.
The acting is equally as schizophrenic with Meryl’s self awareness adding a forced quality to everything she does, only her husband played my Stanley Tucci appears to act naturally out of the entire period cast. Everything is far too calculated and thought out to be in any way funny. The caricature she embodies is made obvious when a Saturday Night Live skit of Dan Aykroyd portraying Child is no more ludicrous than Streep’s portrayal.
Adams as Powell is nothing short of worrying in how she is written or (according to the script) truthfully played, so much so that a 90 year old Child should have considered a barring order. She explains everything good that happens to her as being a result of Child (perhaps somewhat true as, if you listen to her writing her blog posts she shows no aptitude for writing in the slightest). She snaps and bickers with her doormat of a husband for no apparent reason and mimics the feelings and experiences of Childs like a Twilight fan does Bella.
Adams decision to be involved at all in this bloated piece can at least be explained away by saying that she wanted to be involved in a Streep movie or hopes to break into the romantic comedy market. However, there is only one reasonable explanation for Streep taking such roles that springs to mind; no matter how awful the movie (and that even includes Mamma Mia where none of the cast could either sing or dance and the story might as well have been written in crayon), she knows that people will continue to nominate her for awards and give her positive feedback. Thus the joke is perhaps firmly on us.