When I think of Julia Child, I think of the film Julie & Julia directed by Nora Ephron and starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams, about a woman who decided to do a blog about cooking all of Child’s recipes from her book The Art of French Cooking. The film had a lot of heart and three great performances from Streep, Adams, and Stanley Tucci as Child’s husband. The documentary gets more into the details of Child’s actual life though.
That being said, Julia Child was a staple in our home when I was a child, along with Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, both PBS shows. The documentary starts with Child making a chicken in the credits, while a Jimi Hendrix song is playing. The film is based on several books about Julia Child. As per the books and Child, Americans ate a bunch of bad food and Julia helped to change the way America cooks and eats. Her first television show was in Boston
The food comes alive in the film. They show fresh Ingredients being cooked as a way to help the viewer see how good the food looked. Especially the boeuf bourguignon. I wanted to jump through the screen because the food looked so good. Even though the film shows how good the food Child cooks looks, it’s really about her life as a whole.
Early on Child joined the CIA as a typist and as part of that, the filmmakers used her correspondence on the screen as subtitles. It’s a very interesting way to help tell her story. There are also a lot — and I mean a lot — of talking heads including friends, food critics, authors, and teachers of hers from the past. The best decision of her life was when she and her husband Paul moved to Paris, France, where she felt at home and first fell in love with French food and French cooking. Julia was serious when she entered in to Le Cordon Bleu school of cooking
Child lived by the three F’s: Feed, F*ck, Flatter. She loved her husband and did whatever she could to please him. That being said, Julia loved cooking and wanted to teach American women how to cook her way. She started her cooking school and started writing her book about French cooking for Americans. It took 12 years to write the book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Her goal was to make American wives the best they could be in the kitchen.
The book tour led to a cooking show on a local Boston officiate WGBH-TV station. It was the home of the show, The French Chef. A skit on SNL starring Dan Ackroyd flattered her and showed how popular she was. She was very theatrical, funny and enjoyed herself while cooking very complicated dishes on air. Her catchphrase was “Bon Appetit!”. That’s how she ended her show each week. She had a way about her that people could relate to, a friendly manner on television. That was what helped make her show a hit with audiences.
She was also an activist and supported Planned Parenthood. Her success led her to use her name and brand for various causes in her life. This is just the tip of the iceberg in her life. She was an American icon like, as mentioned, Mr. Rogers, Lucille Ball, and arguably Archie Bunker. People just loved her and her personality. The cooking was at the heart of what she did for the American people though. Not that my mom could cook like her, but we still were glued to watching her each week. This film showed how iconic she was in various ways.
4 1/2 stars
Dan Skip Allen
Founder/EIC disappointment media