JULIA – A Review by John Strange
Julia Child’s name is eponymous with cooking. From her appearance on a PBS show to publicize her first cookbook, she has grabbed the hearts and stomachs of the American public. Her voice is etched into our memories as are her glorious dishes, cooked to perfection on our TV screens!
This documentary follows the chef from her childhood through her death at the age of 91. We learn about her father’s desire for her life and how she changed her future by going to work for the OSS during World War II as a typist.
That work saw her traveling to places her previous life would never have dreamed of. It was during this time that she met the love of her life, Paul Child, a co-worker in the intelligence service.
Julia Carolyn McWilliams married Paul Child in 1946. Paul went to work for the State Department. His first assignment took them to Paris, France where Julia fell in mad passionate love with French cuisine. This led to her using her G.I. Benefits to attend Le Cordon Bleu, one of the most famous cooking schools in the world.
The school was a boys’ club. The French were VERY set in their beliefs that the kitchen of a restaurant was a man’s world. They felt that only men were strong enough to handle the heavy pans and pots used.
They didn’t figure on Julia’s size and determination. She completed the school’s training course. After graduation, she joined the woman’s cooking club Le Cercle des Gourmettes where she met Simone Beck. The rest is cooking history.
The two co-wrote what they felt was the definitive book on preparing French cuisine. Due to her move to Marseille thanks to Paul’s job during this period, the two had to work on the book and recipes by mail. The effort took a few years of back and forth, but the tome that resulted was amazing.
Except that they couldn’t get it published. The cookbooks of the day were just not as detailed as this one.
Eventually, they were able to find a book publisher willing to take a chance on them. Then came the PBS book review program. Her request for a hot plate threw the show’s producers. The show was talking about books, not demonstrations!
Her preparation of beef bourguignon led to her being offered a cooking show of her own. The French Chef debuted on February 11, 1963, and ran for ten years. Her face was a staple on our TVs.
But these are just a couple of the high points of her early career. The filmmakers did an excellent job of showing us an icon, complete with both the good and bad of her life and career. This woman was a force of nature who took on both her talent for preparing food and self-promotion with the full force of her strong will.
I loved this film. Directors Julie Cohen and Betsy West have given us a well-paced film that is filled with celebrities of the food world and others who knew her well, telling their Julia stories and memories. These same chefs owe their careers to this strong amazing woman who loved to cook and loved to show us how we, too, could have these same delicious dishes on our home dinner tables.
Directed by: Julie Cohen & Betsy West
Executive Producers: Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Michael Rosenberg, Amy Entelis, Courtney Sexton, Bob Spitz, Alex Prud’homme, Oren Jacoby
Cast: Julia Childs, José Andrés, Paul Bogaards, André Cointreau, Phila Cousins, Susy Davidson, Danièle Delpeuch, Barbara Fairchild, Jane Friedman, Ina Garten, Charlie Gibson, Stephanie Hersh, Marian Morash, Russell Morash, Sara Moulton, Jacques Pépin, Alex Pirie, Pat Pratt, Alex Prud’homme, Ruth Reichl, Cecile Richards, Jean-François Thibault, Marcus Samuelsson François Simon, Anne Willan, Dorothy Zinberg
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for brief strong language/sexual reference, and some thematic elements)
Selig Rating: 5 Stars
Runtime: 95 Min.
Release Date: 11/19/2021 (11/12/2021 in NYC and LA)
Local Release Locations: Angelika Film Center & Cafe – Dallas and Angelika Film Center & Café – Plano
Movie Site: JULIA Official Site
Trailer: JULIA Trailer
The Selig Rating Scale:
5 Stars – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
4 Stars – Good movie
3 Stars – OK movie
2 Stars – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
1 Star – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.