Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Julie and Julia -- Do Two Books Make One Movie?

I got to go to a sneak preview of the movie Julie & Julia Tuesday July 28, starring Meryl Streep as Julia Child and Amy Adams as Julie Powell.

One of these characters is famous. One probably never will be, but provided the stimulus for the movie.

In 2002, a young Julie Powell, facing 30 and stuck in a tough administrative job helping families whose loved ones died in the collapse of the World Trade Center towers, decided to write a blog. She cooked her way through Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking in the course of a year. The blog was popular, but became a phenomenon after Amanda Hesser (who plays herself in the movie) published a story on Powell in the New York Times. Suddenly, Powell was a somebody, and was deluged with requests for interviews and calls from literary agents and editors asking her if she had ever considered writing a book about her experiences.

Her book came out in 2005 and was a hit. Julia Child's memoir about her life in France came out in 2006 and was a hit. Hit filmmaker Nora Ephron put them together for the movie Julie & Julia, which will come out August 7.

The movie is charming and fun and will make you hungry since the food all looks so good. (The New York Times even ran an article about the food stylist.) Plan on going out to dinner after you see it, and plan to find a French restaurant.

The movie should do wonders for the sales of Powell's and Child's books, as well as for the sales of The Tenth Muse, a memoir by editor Judith Jones, who published Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Jones is a character in the movie.

Meryl Streep, of course, is fabulous. She should win yet another Academy Award for her portrayl.

Julie Powell has already been written about extensively. She is quite a character: she swears profusely, she has sold her eggs to pay off her credit card debt, she cheated on her husband, Eric, while writing her second memoir about learning to cut up meat; she was dismissed curtly by Julia Child in various interviews, and more. All of this is great fodder for her literary work.

I think this is one of those case where two books make one delightful movie.

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