Yes, I’m a little late on the Julie & Julia (2009) bandwagon. Since this isn’t for the purpose of review, let me summarize mine in one sentence: It was cute, sometimes annoying (mostly due to Julie and husband), but overall entertaining and hunger-inducing. Oh, and Meryl Streep was brilliant, of course…Okay I lied. Two sentences.
Aside from Streep’s performance as Julia Child, the part of the film that was most fascinating to me was Julie Powell. Not as a character, really, or even as a person (because she is real, after all.) Rather, it was her circumstance that was thought-provoking.
Her side of the story takes place in New York City 2002. 9/11 is ever-present in Powell’s life seeing as how she works as some sort of “customer service” representative for victims of the terrorist attack, or anyone complaining about plans to rebuild the World Trade Center. This, obviously, leaves a dark cloud hanging over her life. On top of that, she’s anxious about turning thirty because she has yet to accomplish her career goals.
There’s a scene early on in her storyline where Julie goes to meet up with “friends” for lunch. Though it makes absolutely no sense why this woman would be friends with these superficial and egotistical females, the lunch scene gives us a further glimpse into Julie’s situation. She’s not doing what she wants to do, people remind her of it constantly, and she feels like a failure. No, not just a failure. The best kind – a failed writer.
Now I don’t say that facetiously. Though, you have to admit, it’s an unfortunate common trend in the line of “failures.” But this is where Julie’s circumstance really starts to hit home. We find out that she graduated college with high hopes from herself and everyone else of becoming a successful writer. However, she’s bummed because she apparently had a book deal that fell through. She repeats self-deprecating remarks about her inability to finish anything, and yet she yearns to break free of her monotonous and emotionally draining job. She wants to be published.
And that’s where the blogging comes in. Blogs (“web logs”) have become increasingly popular in the late 90s and the 2000s. Julie entertains the idea of starting one, and her husband encourages her saying it’s the easiest way to get recognized and published these days. After much debate on what to write about, it hits her that she loves cooking and has a special place in her heart for Julia Child. And thus, the rest is (recent) history.
Honestly, it was a bit strange to watch someone blog in a movie. I’m not sure why, but I guess it’s never really been explored so in-depth before in the context of a film. In this one, it’s half about blogging. And on top of it, Julie Powell becomes a successful writer because of the popularity of her blog, The Julie/Julia Project. More and more, the offers start pouring in, leading to book deals, agents, interviews, etc. (And as the end credits cheesily point out – a movie deal.)
I think Julie Powell’s character represents a lot of things, especially in the current economic times. She represents loss of dreams, disappointment upon graduation, and years of temp jobs she could’ve done better than. She also represents modern-day hope, success via online writing, and accomplishment when she least expected it.
This part of the film, I think, speaks very clearly to our generation – particularly the graduates in their twenties. To tell you the truth, blogging has been my sort of miniature savior in a time of recent post-graduation, bad economic climate, limited jobs, and seemingly nonexistent jobs in what I studied. As corny as it sounds, a comment and a page view trigger that little voice in the very back of my head saying, This is what you were supposed to do. So I’m thankful for blogging, the internet, and the accessible ways in which us writers and creatives can get our voices out there. Because without it? Well, times would really be tough then.
I think Julie Powell herself would agree.