Julie & Julia (2009)

Passion. Ambition. Butter. Do You Have What It Takes?

Plot outline

Julia Child's story of her start in the cooking profession is intertwined with blogger Julie Powell's 2002 challenge to cook all the recipes in Child's first book.

Personal notes




Julia Child's story of her start in the cooking profession is intertwined with blogger Julie Powell's 2002 challenge to cook all the recipes in Child's first book. - Kenneth Chisholm

Julia Child and Julie Powell - both of whom wrote memoirs - find their lives intertwined. Though separated by time and space, both women are at loose ends... until they discover that with the right combination of passion, fearlessness and butter, anything is possible. - Columbia Pictures

In 1949, Julia Child is in Paris, the wife of a diplomat, wondering how to spend her days. She tries hat making, bridge, and then cooking lessons at Cordon Bleu. There she discovers her passion. In 2002, Julie Powell, about to turn 30 and underemployed with an unpublished novel, decides to cook her way through "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" in a year and to blog about it. We go back and forth between these stories of two women learning to cook and finding success. Sympathetic, loving husbands support them both, and friendships, too, add zest.

In 1949, the diplomat Paul Child and his wife Julia are expatriated to France. In Paris, the bored Julia decides to learn how to cook and later to write a book teaching American housewives how to cook French cuisine. In 2002, the frustrated secretary of a government agency Julie and her husband, the editor Eric Powell, move to an apartment in Queens over a pizzeria. Julie is an aspirant writer and loves to cook and her husband suggests her to write a blog to spend her leisure time. Julie decides to write a blog about cooking and commits herself to cook the 534 recipes written by Julia Child in her book in 365 days. - Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

In 1949, American diplomat Paul Child starts a four year posting in Paris. His wife, the physically imposing Julia Child, loves Paris life, especially the food which she finds a revelation, but has no idea what to do with her time. She decides to parlay that love of the French cuisine by taking a cooking class. Believing she is not at the beginner level, she is able to convince the snooty head of the Cordon Bleu to enroll in a class for aspiring professional chefs. Her fellow students, all young men, see her solely as a bored housewife, so she tries to prove them wrong by cooking with what she considers fearlessness. Julia eventually meets Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle, who are working on among other things an English language French cookbook, which Julia would herself like as she is unable to find such. She eventually becomes a collaborator on that book, which she wants to make accessible for the average American. The book has a difficult road to publication, if it gets published at all, which is made all the more difficult with Paul's subsequent postings and Julia moving away from Paris. In 2002, thirty year old Julie Powell is floundering in her life. She wanted to be a writer, but works as a low level bureaucrat in a thankless job for the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, dealing with the sad and/or angry calls from people affected by 9/11. Although she regularly has what she calls her "cobb salad" luncheons with them, she neither really likes or understands her Amherst College "friends", whose lives have all turned out the way they wanted. And she reluctantly moves to an apartment over a pizzeria in Queens from Brooklyn largely so that her magazine editor husband Eric Powell can be closer to his job and they can save money, of which they don't have much. Beyond her time with Eric, Julie's only sanctuary is cooking. To find some meaning in her life, Julie, on Eric's encouragement, decides to write a blog, the topic she chooses being her year long journey to cook the 524 recipes in Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking". Julie is determined to complete this project, project completion which has been sorely lacking in her life. It becomes the primary focus in her life, which contains its frequent meltdowns, which Eric is unsure if he can handle as part of this life. What keeps Julie largely going is the spirit of Julia, who she considers perfect, who she hopes knows about and understands her journey, and who she would someday like to meet. As Julie's blog becomes more well known, she also tries to keep true to the project for the sake of her readers, and also hopes it gets noticed by a publisher so that she can be a published author as was her college dream. - Paul Child