Sunday, 6 September 2009

Julie & Julia pt. 2

I reviewed Julie & Julia by Julie Powell here a few months ago and this week managed to see the big-screen adaptation, directed by Nora Ephron and starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams as Julia Child and Julie Powell, respectively. I won tickets to a screening given by Duckworth Publishers who have commissioned My Life in France, the memoir by Julia Child that the film is also based on.

As one of my first promotional events hosted by a publisher, this was a very chic one held in the Sony Screening Room in Central London with free drinks, nibbles, film, and copies of the memoir! We had such a fun night and my boyfriend (who is assuredly in touch with his feminine side and confessed lover of "chick-flicks") LOVED the movie as did I. Thank you to Duckworth for the opportunity.

Where the novel Julie & Julia is obviously top-heavy in its concentration upon Julie Powell's blog experiment -524 recipes from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking in 365 days- Julie & Julia is an equal examination of Julie, the aspiring writer and amateur cook and Julia, who is at the time learning to cook in Paris and who later becomes a published writer, in her own right. The year in each of their lives is alternately shown and cleverly paralleled, in their cooking successes and failures, their burgeoning writing career, and both their marriages. The synchronicity in their stories is well achieved and emphasised onscreen.

The aspects of the reading experience that I didn't enjoy so much: the dryness at times of the recipe descriptions and the relentless coarseness of Julie, were absent in the film experience. I found the same funny bits still hilariously funny (the lobsters scene and the Powell's cat especially) but it was the Julia Child parts of the film, those taken from the book I haven't read -My Life in France- that I enjoyed most. Meryl Streep embodies the character of Julia Child and is incredibly engaging, heart-warming, and highly amusing. I loved her trials and tribulations and, although interested in the cooking, was engrossed in Julia (and Julie's) attempts to write and publish; with a demonstrable interest in the publishing industry, those parts were illuminating to me.

Above all this is a heartwarming film with two highly intriguing female characters. It isn't often where you can say that the film version is better than the book but this one had the advantage of being based on two books, which definitely helped. I look forward to reading my copy of My Life in France by Julia Child to discover more about a fascinating woman. As you probably know from reading my blog, I seldom read non-fiction, biographies, or memoirs but this one excites me; Meryl Streep imbued Julia Child with such warmth, humour and pathos, that I want to know the real Julia Child in her own words.

I also plan to read the novel Heartburn by Nora Ephron, who directed the film as well as wrote the screenplay adapted from both Julie and Julia's memoirs. Heartburn is also, coincidentally, a cookery-orientated book and a Virago Modern Classic; it is one I had forgotten about until I persuaded Verity to buy it on our bookshop trip, and thought it only fair that I read my own copy to compare notes. If either My Life in France or Heartburn are as witty and heartwarming as the film version of the character from one and the creation by the writer of the other then I am in for exceptionally engaging reading. Have you read either? would you like to after having seen the film, Julie & Julia, or from reading my review?


farmlanebooks said...

WOW! You lucky thing! Sounds excellent! I have never been to an event hosted by a publisher and it sounds like you had a great introduction to them.

I haven't read the book yet, but want to at some point. I think I'll get round to watching the film after I've read the book. I love cooking, so do think I'll enjoy both.

Paperback Reader said...

Jackie, it was a great introduction and now I want to attend an event a week!

I'd suggest the book of the same name first and I expect that you will enjoy them both.

verity said...

Lucky you! I've read the book and would quite like to see the film, but not sure it would appeal to Ken!

Paperback Reader said...

I recommend it, Verity; I definitely think it's better than the book.

Paperback Reader said...

P.S. Gareth loves cooking -as well as chick-flicks- so this was definitely his thing! He's raved about it all weekend.

Book Psmith said...

What a fun way to see the movie! I also have My Life in France on my tbr and fear I may picture Meryl Streep as Julia instead of Julia as Julia when I read it (this happened when I recently read a biography on Child). I read Heartburn many years ago and coupled it with a viewing of the film (also with Streep)...I remember liking the movie better (I think it was the combo of Streep with Nicholson that did it) but both were good.

Rachel said...

Oooooh I am so jealous! I can't wait to see this film, I've been bleating on about it since I read about it a few months ago. I think it comes out next week for us 'normal' people who don't win tickets to posh previews so I shall be out to see it on opening night!!

I want to read My Life in France but the actual book Julie and Julia I have heard is full of expletives etc which I can't stand so I might give it a miss unless I really feel compelled to read it after watching the film.

Steph said...

I haven't seen this movie (I think this will be one we rent), or read the book, but I think one thing that is unequivocal is that this film can be credited with the recent upsurge in all things Julia Child! I think we will also see a renewed public interest in previously published food memoirs, and probably a new saturation of them as well. With shows like Top Chef and the like on tv, books like The Omnivore's Dilemma, and movies like Food Inc (and of course this one), I think we're heading for a boom in terms of the public's interest in all things food. I found myself reading a chef's memoir not too long ago, and I think I'll probably pick up some more! I'm not sure that I'm up to tackling any of Child's recipes at the moment (I really don't have the time or access to the ingredients!), but I won't be surprised if I wind up reading about her in the future!

Frances said...

Oh, you have to read My Life in France! So much of what you see personally of Julia in the film comes from that book.

What a great film-going experience you had! I am a little envious. Didn't it make you want to throw a Valentine's Day Party? Sigh.

Paperback Reader said...

Book Psmith, I am sure I will imagine Streep as Child also.

I also want to see the movie of Heartburn. I am intrigued that it is based on Ephron's life and the infidelity of her husband, Carl Bernstein of Watergate fame.

Rachel, it's out on Friday! It's one I would like on dvd too as it is so feel-good.

The book is colourful in its language, very noticeably so, like a cooking Bridget Jones.

Steph, I love the food culture that is rapidly growing. I'm a definite foodie but I too am more interested in reading more about Julia Child than attempting her recipes.

It was Anthony Bourdain's memoir you read, wasn't it? He's on my wishlist (well, him, and his writing!)

Frances, I do intend to read it soon and so happy to hear a positive review! I think Streep is a method actor so it's probable that she used much of what she garnered of Child from the autobiography so I'm not surprised (and relieved) to find out that her character comes out in the writing.

It was a fantastic experience and, yes, I loved the Valentine's Day party and the paper hearts that beat!

Darlene said...

I'm so glad that you enjoyed the film, how could you not! My husband went along with me for the popcorn but later admitted he loved it whenever Julia/Meryl was on the screen. I have My Life in France on hold at the library along with every other lady in Burlington.

Julia said...

I also thoroughly enjoyed this, one of the best films I've seen this year. Meryl Streep was absolutely marvellous.

Dot said...

How exciting, sounds like you had a lovely time! I'm going to try and see the film this week as I have read so much about it, need to read the book too!

Paperback Reader said...

Darlene, it was very enjoyable and apparently it has this strong appeal to women, especially, to learn more about Julia Child. A testimony, in my opinion, to how well Meryl Streep played the role.

Julia, she really was marvellous. I have to agree that this is also one of the best films I have seen this year. I foresee another Oscar nomination in Meryl Streep's future.

Dot, I recommend both and look forward to your thoughts when you manage to see/read them.

Carl V. said...

I am so glad you enjoyed the film experience and that you got to go to such a special showing of it! Wow!

It is a really lovely film, one I cannot wait to see again when it comes out on DVD.

The library queue for this book is slowly coming down and getting closer to my being able to get it. I look forward to reading it and Julia's My Life in France.

Paperback Reader said...

Carl, it was great to see it before it was released here! I really thought I'd have to wait for the DVD.

I look forward to your thoughts on the books, once you manage to obtain copies.

Nan said...

I can't wait to read the book and see the movie. I read Heartburn a few years ago, liked it, and got some great recipes from it. I am so fond of Nora Ephron.

Paperback Reader said...

Nan, I hope you enjoy both the book and movie. I am definitely planning on reading Heartburn too; I love a fiction book with recipes or a food theme.

Samantha said...

I am very much looking forward to seeing this movie and I would equally compell you to read Heartburn - I found it to be an absolute hoot. I also loved Ephron's I Feel Bad About My Neck (essays) but somehow I think (jealously!) you may be a bit to young to "get" the titled essay of this collection :-)

Paperback Reader said...

Hi Samantha! I really am looking forward to the time to settle down with Heartburn, especially now that I know you love it. I am intrigued about the title essay of her volume!

Madeleine said...

I won JULIE AND JULIA in a Hachette giveaway but have to yet receive it. So i have not read it.
What I am excited about is seeing one of my favorite actresses again on the screen, Meryl Streep is just so very talented and funny and serious and just anyone she has to portray, she just does it so very well!!!!!

Thank-you for visiting my blog, I love your book selections and the colour arrangements and your blog

Have a wonderful Week-end

Paperback Reader said...

Hi Madeleine, thank you for your comment about this post and my blog in general. Meryl Streep really is exceptional in this movie; I've never really been struck until recently (um, since Mamma Mia) how versatile she is as an actress.
I would contact Hachette or the person who held the giveaway to chase up your book!
Have a great weekend too.