I was excited to see Julie & Julia*. After all, it had three things going for it that are near and dear to my heart:
And, it did have all three of those things in it. Enough of #1 for me to recommend it to someone who loves Tumblr pictures of the City of Lights. Not nearly enough of #2, though – I wanted the frittata scene from Big Night. The feast part of Babette’s Feast. The opening scene of Eat Drink Man Woman. I was ready for food, and instead I got a Nora Ephron movie. Which I should have expected: Julie & Julia was written by Nora Ephron. But before I get flamed, let me explain.
Nora Ephron movies are fine. There is nothing wrong with them. But it was not until I saw this movie that I realized the last time she wrote a female character worth rooting for was when she penned Silkwood. Which brings me to #3 – the blogging.
Julie was the editor of her college newspaper. She apparently also wrote a novel, which no one wanted to publish. She works in a cubicle and has one miserable friend, three bitchy friends, a bitchy mother, and a saintly husband. In a fit of inadequacy and low self-esteem, she starts a blog detailing her attempt to make every recipe in Julia Child’s famous cookbook over the span of one year. (Spoiler! She succeeds.)
This is based on not one, but two true stories – Julie’s and Julia’s. And their stories intertwine nicely. But while Julia is portrayed as a woman who found her passion, dove in head first and kind of hilariously became the Ms. Child we know and love, Julie is instead a cowering wreck of a girl whom you find hard to believe has the capacity to find a matching pair of socks without dissolving into a whimpering mess**.
Finding yourself is a good thing. Having a purpose is empowering. Embarking on a new project or journey is wonderful. Knowing people are reading what you send out into the Internets is pretty cool. And having fans, and being written about, and gaining even a modicum of fame, is fun as hell. But as I watched Julie’s story unfold, it occurred to me that nothing would make her happy. And that, I’m afraid, seems to be the common trait embodied by all of Ephron’s characters.
I wish this had been written by, I don’t know who. Tina Fey? Leora Barish? Daniel Clowes? Someone who would have made Julie to be a bit more of a New Yorker, for one, and less ready to move to Greenwich. Someone who would have considered the pride she felt in her accomplishments as more of a sign of a growing confidence and less of a one-off in her otherwise miserable existence. Instead her character gets written up in The New York Times, comes home to 65 voicemail messages from publishers, agents and editors, and spends the evening obsessing over the one negative thing that happened that day.
I don’t know where else I’m going with this review. It’s 6.47 AM, I have insomnia, and I have a full day of writing ahead of me. But I’m sad that this movie was such an insipid chick flick, when it could have been an inspiration to anyone who wants to make their passion their life’s work.****
*Please note trailer linked above bears little resemblance to the film.
**Please note I am speaking of the character. I’m sure Julie is a lovely woman. Also,***
***I can only pray that one day, some stupid blogger writes a similarly ignorant assessment of a film of my own life written by Nora Ephron.
****I promise that soon I will write a positive movie or book review. I’m going to bed now.
P.S. Next day. I remember what this reminds me of. It reminds me of my own dream, which is to retrace the trip Paul Theroux took in the Pillars of Hercules, in which he traveled to every country on the Mediterranean using only surface transportation. So, just suppose I did that, and Paul Theroux found out, and without reading what I was writing about it, dismissed it out of hand. Guess what? I’d be bummed – for about five minutes, until I remembered that I’M TRAVELING AROUND THE MEDITERRANEAN AND WRITING ABOUT IT.
P.P.S. I was inspired to update this – now with ten times more ire! – after having read an excerpt from Julie’s new book, Cleaving. Her writing is awful. WHERE IS MY BOOK DEAL.