Julie & Julia: A Blogging Foodie In France Weighs In

I was excited to see Julie & Julia*. After all, it had three things going for it that are near and dear to my heart:

  1. Paris
  2. Food
  3. Blogging

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.

7 thoughts on “Julie & Julia: A Blogging Foodie In France Weighs In

  1. After watching the movie I have been reading her blog. It is amazing how many times the recipes turn out to be diasters because she didn’t read the recipe all the way through before starting. First rule of cooking. I liked the movie but then I like chick flicks. I agree that the best parts were Julia and France. And would like to have seen a whole movie about Julia. She was a remarkable woman for her time.

    • Yes! Cal didn’t like Meryl’s performance, but I would have gladly watched an entire movie of her chortling and flailing her arms and whipping things into a frenzy.

  2. The main flaw of the film is that Julie comes off as a complete and total selfish self absorbed witch.

    She’s the Emma Bovary of food!

  3. Thanks for the movie review! I haven’t seen it yet, but I think your review was very helpful and you explained yourself very well🙂 My mom liked it and I still want to see it, but it’s good to know what to expect a bit!

  4. I read Julie’s blog. Nora wrote the nice version of that character. Julie was very unhappy and complained all the time. Which is fine. It’s her blog she can do/say whatever she wants. However, that character would not have “worked” on screen.

    After reading the reviews of her second memoir, not sure if that book will be made into a major studio movie anytime soon. They’d have to gut out all the controversial stuff.

    I thought Nora did a great job with When Harry Met Sally.

    • I liked When Harry…, mostly because when it came out I was in love with my best guy friend, too. But watching it now, to me it just doesn’t hold up.

      Gotcha on the rewriting to be “nicer” for her character. But honestly, they could have at least made her COOL. Snarky, subversive, cool, like most of us bloggers! Ha!

  5. you are absolutely on target….how nice it would have been if Nora used her talents to focus on Ms. Child, and only Ms. Child. It would have been a great movie, not just a mediocre one. Sigh, maybe next blog you can explain the Mama Mia lovefest. Keep bloggiing….you’re the best!

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