I’m a sucker for movies about the creative process. You know the scene in “Ratatouille” in which a bite of food whisks the bitter food critic back to his childhood ? The ability of art to transport is one of the major reasons I consume and create it.
Last night I watched “Julie and Julia,” a movie about the woman without whom “Ratatouille” probably wouldn’t exist. I thought “Julie and Julia” was going to be about cooking. In fact, it told the story of two women’s roads to becoming published authors.
I was disappointed. Cooking has its own drama. The final scene of “Big Night,” in which two brothers cook eggs, comes to mind. My favorite parts of “Julie and Julia” were brief views of mushrooms being browned, cream being poured. But the movie doesn’t exploit the drama of cooking, as it could have.
I’d much rather watch someone cook on film than write (or talk about how they want to be published). Let’s face it, watching someone type is boring. That’s why we have no reality shows featuring aspiring novelists battling it out, and why some of the best movies about writers have writer’s block as a prominent theme (“Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “Sideways”) or are about hunting down a scandal (“All the President’s Men”).
Julia’s half of the story was more compelling, for a lot of reasons. Julia Child vs. Julie Powell, Meryl Streep vs. Amy Adams (as cute as she is), Stanley Tucci vs. whoever that guy was, Paris vs. New York, fifties fashion vs. aughts fashion. But also, just the fact that, although we know Julia’s book will be published, there’s drama in watching Julia Child become the woman who would transform American culinary culture. I didn’t really care whether Julie transformed from blog writer to published author. So many people are trying to do that.