Friday, July 17, 2009

Julie & Julia Child Movie Review and Alternate Ending Suggestions

Travel is my thing -- not doing reviews of movies.

But having been lucky enough to attend an advance screening of Julie & Julia last night (a few weeks in advance of the August 7 release date), I thought I'd jot down a few thoughts.

Call it a review, if you like, but for what it's worth, here goes.

And IMO it's impossible to 'spoil' Julie & Julia, so apologies in advance if this proves not to be the case.

Julie & Julia is based on two true stories: Julie Powell (Amy Adams), 29, young married, looking for direction, focus, who in one year cooks her way through every recipe in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking and blogs about it.

Julia Child is, well, Julia Child (wiki details), played perfectly by Meryl Streep.

Both Adams and Child seem to be at the top of their actor game. In fact, Oscar thoughts danced in my head for a while there.

The film is billed as a biography drama -- somewhat surprising given the many ROTFL moments:
Child learning to chop onions, being too tall for the French beds
Powell learning to poach eggs, eating bruschetta with hubby

In fact the the first half of the film, I had tears rolling down my face!

The film is really two films in one -- bios of both women's lives -- seamlessly switching between 2002 NYC Julie to 1950s Paris Julia, giving a Then and Now aspect:

Julia Child 1950: McCarthy era, corresponding through letters, gorgeous flat in Paris

Julie Powell 2002: 9/11 aftermath, blogging, grotty flat above pizza place


There is a travel angle to this review: The shots of Paris will have you booking a ticket and a flat for the season. Absolutely gorgeous! The French aloof and rude? Not to irrepressible Julia!

Julie & Julia: From ROTFL beginning to WTF? ending


Yet for all the humour, great pacing, clear direction and overall I Love This Movie! excellence, the ending, for me, fell short, and set off a great long 'discussion' with fellow movie goer (FMG) about why this happened and how to fix it.

FMG claims Julie's one-year deadline to cook and blog had built-in stop point: No where to go at end of year.

So the end-of-film text explanation as to WTF had happened was all that could be done, except maybe, they could have shown that, just as Julia's book had made a difference in Julie's life, so too had Julie's blog made a positive difference in someone else's life.

Not so, say I, the fall-flat ending could have been fixed with better editing. Here's why.

Alternate ending for Julie & Julia

(With all due respect to those involved who may have been too close to the film or have knowledge I do not)

Here's how the the final scenes ran:

1. Scene with Julie and hubby hosting rooftop garden dinner for friends.

2. Scene with Julie and hubby visiting Child's kitchen at the Smithsonian

3. Scene with Child finally getting first copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking


Here's how these scenes might be remastered:

1. Scene with Child finally getting first copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking
-This would tie up the story for Child; in effect, as we said in journalism school, Kiss her off.

2. Scene with Julie and hubby visiting Child's kitchen at the Smithsonian

-Homage where homage due. Cute scene.

3. Scene with Julie and hubby hosting rooftop garden dinner for friends.
-Julie's toast to hubby at wonderful dinner with friends a high point; good to end on a high point.

Then, if you like, keep the closing scene of text citing what eventually happened to Julie and Julia. It then becomes thoughtful, good-to-know stuff instead of 'Gosh How on earth can we end this movie?' stuff.

Having said this, I'd still go to see the movie again. When you are laughing very hard, you tend to miss bits of dialogue, etc. And with clean language, no nudity, or violence, it's one movie that you can take your parents and or kids to, and not cringe!

If you haven't already seen the trailer, here it is:
Julie & Julia Trailer on YouTube

(and mark your calendar for August 7 : You're going to the movies that night!)

(Thanks to Tribute.ca for a wonderful evening!)
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