Mastering the art of blog to film

“Julia & Julia” takes two women’s stories to the big screen, but leaves pieces behind.

Stanley Tucci as Paul Child and Meryl Streep as Julia Child in Columbia Pictures Julie & Julia.

Ashley Goetz

Stanley Tucci as “Paul Child” and Meryl Streep as “Julia Child” in Columbia Pictures’ Julie & Julia.

âÄúJulie & JuliaâÄù DIRECTED BY: Nora Ephron STARRING: Meryl Streep, Amy Adams RATED: PG-13 SHOWING: Area theaters âÄúI have no claim over the woman at all, unless itâÄôs the claim those who have nearly drowned have over the person who pulled them out of the ocean,âÄù writes Julie Powell , the blogger half of âÄúJulie & JuliaâÄù about the death of chef and TV personality Julia Child . ItâÄôs this drowning/saving relationship that makes up the central plot of the two womenâÄôs intertwined story with ties into reality and history that make it not just a film but a whole hodge-podge of media, from old recipes to âÄúSNLâÄù skits. The best way to label âÄúJulie & JuliaâÄù would be as a chef biopic mixed with a blogger wet-dream-come-true of getting ping-ponged by Web hits past financial security and into the realm of Hollywood celebrity. But wait âÄî we were talking about drowning. Enter a disgruntled phone-answerer living in a tiny apartment played by spindly Amy Adams who decides to cook through the famed Julia ChildâÄôs cookbook in 365 days, âÄúrisking her marriage âĦ and her catsâÄô well-beingâÄù on the way. She gets famous while the film gives glimpses into ChildâÄôs time spent in Europe, where she channeled her refusal to be a bored housewife into perfecting the art of chopping onions and turning live lobsters into gourmet dinners. How exactly Julie Powell the blogger was drowning before she learned how to make port wine reductions never exactly becomes clear in the film. She kind of sort of hates her job and she lives above a pizza place âÄî but come on, cinema, letâÄôs have a little bit more conflict than that. Her worst fight with her husband is because she calls him an angel too frequently on her blog. The Julia Child parts are also fairly easy riding, other than a mild entanglement with the red scare, but there was no claim of existential crises in this section of the plot in the first place. The depictions of ChildâÄôs time spent in France are humorous and bubbly, although possibly over-drenched in café- and market-filled Europeness. Not that indulgent Europification has ever hurt a film before âÄî see: the success of every film blatantly about Europe, especially âÄúUnder the Tuscan SunâÄù and âÄúVicky, Cristina Barcelona.âÄù But plot formulation and settings were secondary issues in this film; the real challenge was translating blog/cookbook reality into a narrative that foodies everywhere want to watch. The casting of Meryl Streep as Julia Child was unpredictable but ingenious. Streep naturally does not factor in at ChildâÄôs 6-feet-2-inches , but her vocal impression of the chefâÄôs songbird speech was perfectly complimented with the use of shorter-than-average extras and prop beds made tiny enough to have her feet hanging over the edge. But choosing Amy Adams to play blogger Julie Powell? For some reason, director Nora Ephron (âÄúYouâÄôve Got MailâÄù) decided that a demure, neurotic and skinny Amy Adams should try to play Powell without ever meeting her first. Powell, a curvy brunette who frequently drops f-bombs in her blog writing confessed that she would have preferred to be portrayed by someone like Kate Winslet. Nonetheless, Adams conjures up an intriguing if abstracted character, and the blog narrative of the film floats delicately by on her performance. While the character development doesnâÄôt delve far into either womanâÄôs past or problems, the remaining story of women trying to make it with hard work and talent is refreshing. âÄúJulie & JuliaâÄù will turn plenty of heads, mostly because Meryl Streep plays Julia Child so well (who knew?), and the only thing viewers like more than looking at food is the idea that their own blog could become a similar recession-era life preserver/major motion picture.