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JULIA – Film Review

– By Cate Marquis –

Julia Child is a name nearly everyone recognizes, if for nothing else than she has been so often affectionately parodied as the smiling middle-age woman with the high-pitched voice fearlessly wielding a cleaver on a TV cooking show, and carrying on no matter what happens in her live-TV show. But the late Julia Child was much more, a transformative figure in how American women regarded cooking, the woman who launched a thousand cooking shows (at least!), a bestselling author, a ground-breaker against ageism and sexism, and someone who led a remarkable life by any measure.

JULIA is co-directors Julia Cohen’s and Betsy West’s affectionate, food-filled documentary about this towering figure (literally and figuratively) in American cooking, a documentary that makes a convincing case that Julia Child changed how cooking was perceived in America, changing it from a chore to a creative joy.

This is not West and Cohen’s first documentary about an iconic, ground-breaking woman, as the pair also directed RBG, the excellent 2018 documentary about the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

Julia Child had a fascinating life on so many levels, and ground-breaking on many levels as well. The first woman accepted into Paris’ Le Cordon Bleu cooking school, a bestselling author with her cookbook “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” and a TV star at age 50 with her long-running PBS cooking show, there much to enjoy and amaze in JULIA. While Julia Child was the subject of an earlier narrative film JULIE AND JULIA, in which Meryl Streep played Child and Stanley Tucci played her diplomatic-service husband Paul Child, this documentary more fully (and accurately) explores some of the intriguing aspects of her personal life that film revealed, and adds in some much more lesser-known sides of her life and career, in a fine, informative and well-crafted documentary.

JULIA mixes interviews with family, friends, and experts and archival stills and footage, and alternates that with lush, mouth-watering cooking segments, making the documentary a feast for the eyes as well as affectionate, in-depth tour of its subject’s life and career.

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JULIA – Review

JULIA opens Nov. 19 and Landmark’s Plaza Frontenac Cinema.