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Laura Baudo Sillerman

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Julie & Julia: Who's Cooking Now?

Posted: 08/24/09 03:58 PM ET

In Nora Ephron's film Julie and Julia, there are many treats for the senses: the beautifully presented meals, the baguettes and cheeses, the sights of Paris, the glimpses of the New York City skyline, lovely music, and the overarching presence of butter.

(Photo: BBC Food) Photo: BBC Food

This is not a review (because that can be summed up in two words: must see). This is a note about what happens when a director in her sixties writes and directs a movie, about a young woman questing after the life once led by an older woman.

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The older woman emerges in three dimensions. And when that older woman is played by Meryl Streep, she gains a depth beyond the usual scope of that dimension on film. What is most important for us to realize though is that time and again, it is Julia Child--too-tall, awkward, boisterous and unbridled, a virgin until age 40--who emerges as the sensualist.

The younger woman is so trapped in her insecurities, her quest for notice, her need to revise her history of unfinished dreams that she cannot give in to her husband's kisses, let the soufflé deflate as temperatures rise or even see past the failed dinner to the failing marriage.

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She can't see nor feel much beyond her own skin and taste buds, while Julia Child sees and feels every single sight and taste around her. (To be fair, not much more was expected of Julia than to live her passion, while Julie must labor in a cubicle that echoes with the grief of September 11, 2001.)

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