‘Julia’ Review – ‘A Celebration Of Her Life And A Nod To Her Momentous Contributions’


JULIA brings to life the legendary cookbook author and television superstar who changed the way Americans think about food, television, and even about women. Using never-before-seen archival footage, personal photos, first-person narratives, and cutting-edge, mouth-watering food cinematography, the film traces Julia Child’s 12 year struggle to create and publish the revolutionary Mastering the Art of French Cooking (1961) which has sold more than 2.5 million copies to date, and her rapid ascent to become the country’s most unlikely television star. It’s the empowering story of a woman who found her purpose – and her fame – at 50, and took America along on the whole delicious journey.

As much as you may want to, you can’t take everyone you care about with you on your journey to achieve your goals. While some will help, encourage, and support your endeavors, others will scoff at your efforts and hold you back. Hopefully, the negativity isn’t something that you focus on because having even just one great person on your side can make a tremendous difference. Your circle will get smaller as you progress due to having to cut friends loose or they may get jealous and leave. That’s perfectly okay because those who really care for you will want you to succeed, even if from afar. However, the feelings should be reciprocal and you should support them as well. It takes effort to balance it all but it is possible. You can do it, you got this. If you can take responsibility for your missteps, you’re already ahead of most.

“Julia was more than a cook, she was a cultural force.”

After she made her presence known in the world of food, culinary media and American households would be changed forever. Showcasing all the slices of the life of the legend that is Julia Child, Julia is a celebration of her life and a nod to her momentous contributions to food culture. Unfolding in a mostly delightful way, the documentary tracks the life of the famed author and cook from her early years as a somewhat rebellious youth to global recognition. The one thing that the film highlights that remains consistent throughout her life is her work ethic. Julia was not one to shy away from getting her hands dirty or putting in the necessary hours to get the job done. Growing up in a time where most professions were dominated by men, she knew she had to be exemplary to prove she belonged. She would later, as we know, exceed all expectations and become the architect of the food generation as we know it. I learned a great deal during this doc. As someone who was only familiar with the name Julia Child from pop culture references, this feature was more eye-opening than expected. From the way we all buy and cook our meals to having channels dedicated to food and how to make it, it can all be traced back to the diligence and success of the unexpected star. We also get to witness the great love and reverence that Julia and her husband, Paul had for one another. Unlike other famed stories of the past, Paul played resided in the background and was comfortable helping and watching his wife flourish.

She lived a life full of transformations and doing what was thought to be unconventional. Told through pictures, excerpts from written letters, clips from her cooking shows, and those who knew and learned from her, the documentary is lively as well as informational. Like viewing a cooking show, I began watching with an empty stomach and ended up ordering food as the credits rolled. As an advocate for many things and that distinct voice, I’m surprised she didn’t really pop up on my radar growing up. However, while I am very late, now that I know what I know, I can call myself a fan. When someone is full of life and overcomes the odds, it’s hard not to be impressed. With great editing and direction, this is a documentary that Julia Child fans will love and those unfamiliar will find a new fascination. I enjoyed myself. Its rewatchability is high.

Julia Child
Photo Credit – Fairchild Archive-Penske Media-Shutterstock. Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.
Julia Poses With Staff Cooks On Set
Photograph by Paul Child. © Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University. Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Pacing & Pop

The documentary moves at an entertaining pace. Never lingering too long on any one moment in her incredibly eventful life, the film is able to cover a vast amount points on her timeline. Since I wasn’t fully aware of Julia Child or her accomplishments, what popped for me was everything I learned. She lived an incredible life and achieved a great deal.

Julia, Paul, Emmy Award Trophy
Photograph by Paul Child. © Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University. Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
Jim Scherer Takes Photo Of Julia Child Cooking For Way To Cook
Photo Credit – Jim Scherer. Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Influence & Impact

She’s your favorite cook’s favorite cook. The impact of Julia Child is increasingly evident after absorbing this documentary. Her success in cookbooks, as well as cooking shows, made way for the food culture we live in now. As much as she loved seeing the impact she made while she was alive, she would be even more elated to see how much the culinary world has evolved. We all owe her a debt of gratitude for what she was able to deliver to us, and our stomachs do as well.

Julia was released in select theaters on November 12, 2021, and began a wider release on November 24, 2021. Stay safe and enjoy.

Directors: Julie Cohen & Betsy West

Writers: Based upon Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child by Bob Spitz, Inspired by My Life in France by Julia Child with Alex Prud’homme
The French Chef in America: Julia Child’s Second Act by Alex Prud’homme

Producers: Julie Cohen & Betsy West, Justin Wilkes, Sara Bernstein, Holly Siegel

Executive Producers: Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Michael Rosenberg, Amy Entelis, Courtney Sexton, Bob Spitz, Alex Prud’homme, Oren Jacoby

Editor: Carla Gutierrez

Rated: PG-13

Runtime: 1h 35m

Rating: 3.5 out of 5