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Julie & Julia

Meryl Streep is a marvel. It’s a joy—and a privilege—to watch her inhabit the character of Julia Child, who was in fact a joyous person. (She’s matched by the wonderful Stanley Tucci, who brings the same level of brio to his performance as Child’s loving husband. Let’s not forget him at Oscar time, folks.) Amy Adams is also a remarkable actress who has the ability to convey…

pluck and wide-eyed sincerity without becoming cloying. Her character’s story isn’t nearly as interesting as Julia Child’s, however, and that’s the major failing of Julie & Julia. One can easily get lost in the amazing saga of how Child, the wife of a mid-level American diplomat stationed in France after World War II, stumbled into a career as a cookbook author. Why we’re supposed to care as much about a stressed-out younger woman who places a strain on her happy marriage in order to execute all of Julia’s recipes isn’t clear. The movie’s finale is especially disappointing, but that’s a recurring problem in Nora Ephron’s films, even good ones like Sleepless in Seattle: she doesn’t want to surrender to emotionalism even when the occasion demands it. Instead, Julie & Julia ends on a freeze-frame and cheats the audience out of a rousing finish. Too bad. But I’d gladly watch this film again, just to savor those delicious performances.

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