This is a movie of two halves or, more accurately, two separate stories rather uncomfortably sandwiched together and it soon becomes clear which of the two steals the show as best jam butty.
In the blue corner is eccentric American cook Julia Child (Meryl Streep on magnificent braying form), living in post-war France with her diplomat hubby Paul (Stanley Tucci) and intent on becoming a proper French-style chef. In the red corner is frustrated New York writer Julia (Amy Adams) who, with nothing better to do with her time, decides to cook all 524 recipes from Julia Child’s cordon bleu cookery book and blog about it.
So, who ends up being the most entertaining? Julia Child of course. With her pearls, her booming voice, her sheer joie de vivre and her expert skill with a deboning knife, Streep makes Child a wonderfully warm woman; slightly bonkers but all the better for that. The picture director Nora Ephron paints of Julia’s relationship with her husband Paul is delightful, a marriage made in cake heaven with dollops and dollops of best French butter. Meanwhile, in comparison Julie and her husband (Chris Messina) come over as dull, colourless and without flavour.
Had Ephron been able to make a movie solely about Julia and Paul Child it would have been a marvellous thing to behold – a jelly in the shape of the Vatican perhaps, or an exploding Rum Baba – as it is, the scenes where Streep and Tucci are on screen are the ones to savour and mean half this movie is a fantastic feast.