Intercut with Julie's project, we get to see Julia Child (Meryl Streep) living in Paris and the events that shaped her life and lead to a revolution in American cuisine. Julia and her husband, Paul (Stanley Tucci), moved to Paris when Paul was transferred there to work at the Embassy. Julia struggled to find something to do. She felt adrift in the world, complaining that women there do not do anything. She tries hat making and bridge, but she really loves to eat, so she enrolls at a prestigious cooking school where she proves to be a prodigy. She is eventually asked to contribute to the book that would become Julie Powell's guide to self-actualization.
The movie is interesting, showing how the two women's lives parallel each other. Granted, they are both doing things for different reasons and to different ends, but we pick them both up at a critical points in their respective lives; they are both women in search of a purpose. While it is interesting to watch them discover themselves through a period of tests that tax themselves and their relationships, this movie is more about entertainment than any sort of genuine self-discovery. At least that is what I got out of it.
The performances from both Meryl Streep and Amy Adams are both very good. Meryl Streep is fearless. When she takes a role, she becomes fully invested in it, disappearing into it if you will. The last time I saw her was in Doubt, where she was rather frightening; as Julia Child, Streep exudes warmth, purpose, and sheer happiness. It is quite the difference. Amy Adams, on the other hand, does not have a mean bone in her body, although her performance here sees her somewhat inward-focused (to the point that her marriage is mildly threatened), she portrays Julie as a woman impossible to stay mad at.