Streep is brilliant as Child -- so much so that there were moments that I forgot I wasn't actually watching the chef herself wrestling a de-boned duck into submission. Adams is also quite capable -- not to mention looks like she got run through a magic dump-ifier machine -- and does her best to make the character likable. Still, Julie Powell isn't exactly likable. And neither is her doting -- and brooding -- husband. What's more, the storytelling and directing is heavy handed (to say the least) -- at one turn feeling like a scene out of Sex and the City (complete with shots of Powell seeping her most tortured thoughts onto the screen of her laptop, cursor blinking away pensively) and at another like a mediocre romantic comedy.
The scenes featuring eating -- instead of being the food porn so satisfyingly broadcast on Food Network -- were hard to watch as the actors were obviously instructed to "relish" the dishes but just ended up doing a lot of slurping and smacking and chomping. The sex scenes were worse: I think it's great that Julia and her husband (played by Stanley Tucci) got it on as much as possible (and then some more after that), but in the film it felt forced, unnecessary and showy.
Ultimately, I think I just went into the film expecting too much. I've always loved stories of women championing their circumstances (I think that's simply part of many gay men's lives -- as I was unable to relate to straight men growing up and there weren't [and still aren't] a ton of great examples of queers in popular culture I've always found the diva -- be it Madonna or Julia Child -- who rises to fame on whatever level by defying the odds -- alluring and inspiring) but as I get older, and perhaps crankier, I no longer am satisfied with the lowest common denominator. I now need more than a Meryl Streep in drag -- no matter how dazzling the drag may be -- to impress me.
Julie & Julie hits theatres on August 8.
-- NOAH MICHELSON
Previously > Rob Marshall's Nine Preview