If you're like me, you were drawn to this film by the promise of a funny self-discovery film. But I found the end satisfactory. The emotions (outside of the meltdowns fall flat) and without the enormous passages from Julia Child's own life, it would have been very self-involved. In fact the main character is so selfish the script writers were forced to address it in a scene where Powell argues with her husband about her selfishness.
"As you know bob you've become really self involved?"
"What did you think would happen. I write a blog about me- it's me all the time."
"I know. That's the problem."
"What'd you expect?"
Based on the previews I expected most of her recipes to fail, the failure to be the root of her meltdowns, and learning how to cook creating a sense of self-worth and deepening her relationship with her husband. But throughout the movie theirs something missing from the emotions. The funny isn't really funny, the sad isn't really sad, angry isn't really angry. I know it's supposed to be a light hearted film, but it lacks any level of cathartic experience.
And unlike Julia, whose cooking brings her closer to her husband, Julie's cooking doesn't improve her marriage. It appears to make it worse. To paraphrase a scene that was glossed over, "I can't sleep with you because I have to cook for my blog.The scene over her being selfish is the climax to the relationship, and it's just not that climatic.
And finally its day 365 (felt like it too). Do we continue the blog? Go to cooking school? Learn something new? Do we reminisce about the good things the year has brought? Where's the passion for cooking taking us next?
"Now I can quit, yipee!"
"What!" I yelled at the screen. "This whole movie was really about not quitting a project until it was socially acceptable to quit... and starting a blog to get famous?"
It's like the dancer who wore a brown dress for a year to "save the environment," and ends her conservation mission, by rolling around in a cake. I wonder, was it really about the dress or the attention? And that's exactly what I wondered about the writer Julie Powell, when I finished this film. Was it really about self-discovery or the attention? (see the sequel to Julie and Julia the book, available at amazon.)
If you want something light hearted and mindless, it deserves the four stars people give it. (Because of the cast!) But if you want something with meaning and heart, watch The Blindside.