Butter, that rich but simple staple, lies at the heart of every great dish, according to "Julie & Julia," a salty-sweet movie in which a young blogger finds inspiration in the recipes of Julia Child. Meryl Streep, as Child, is this film's butter; everything else is garnish.
Affectionately written and directed by Nora Ephron, working from both Child's memoir, "My Life in France," and the blog-turned-bestseller "Julie & Julia," the film juxtaposes the biographies of two women who find purpose and meaning in food. Child's story, however, proves to be the more engaging.
That's partly because she faced the sexism and conformity of the 1950s while laboring over her still-iconic book "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." And, of course, there's Streep, incarnating Child to perfection: the yodeling voice, the tottering height (6 feet, 2 inches), the general daffiness that made her television show, "The French Chef," such a hoot. And thanks to Stanley Tucci as Child's ever-encouraging husband, Paul, "Julie & Julia" also serves up a tender, even amorous love story.
Amy Adams has less to work with as Julie Powell, an unfulfilled office drone living in Queens whose bland husband (Chris Messina) suggests she start a cooking blog. It's still intact at blogs.salon.com, complete with cutesy punctuation (!! as well as ?!) and words like "ugh." Nevertheless, Powell's attempt to make all 536 recipes in Child's famous book gains such a following that the blog itself becomes a book (and, as the movie wryly notes, a movie).
Powell's story, while inspirational, seems slightly trivial. Before her death in 2004, Child said she found the blog somewhat of a gimmick; audiences may feel the same way.