Presenting itself as a homage to the woman who taught the American household how to cook from the 1960s up until her death in 2004, Julie Cohen and Betsy West’s documentary Julia remembers the life and achievements of Julia Child in a wonderful culinary adventure.
Child was the first rockstar of the culinary world, the Madonna of cookery showbusiness, and in a similar fashion to their Academy Award-nominated documentary RBG, Cohen and West have created a conventional documentary that showcases the talent and personality of its star, whilst also proving to be an edgy, joyous and deliciously informative visual experience along the way.
An incarnation of Julia has already been created by Meryl Streep in Nora Ephron’s 2009 film Julie and Julia, and later on, in 2022, HBO are set to release a series based on the experiences of the chef, so the challenge for Cohen and West is how to present Julia in a unique light that dishes up something new. Needless to say, that task is made easy by the personality and character of their leading lady. It is Julia’s flamboyance and likability that is the real selling point of her appeal, and it is her relatable hands-on approach to her cooking that revolutionised the concept of cooking French dishes in the United States and brings this documentary bursting into life.
Featuring a number of contributors, ranging from sous-chefs and industry associates to friends and family, Julia delves deep into Child’s public and private life, from Le Cordon Bleu to posing for private nude photographs, whilst also not shying away from addressing her faint elements of homophobia and struggles against those who shunned her for her appearance. This documentary acknowledges all of this but counters these moments with, not only the beauty of the food but of the heart of its creator also. Cooking with all the love in her heart, Child inspired a nation and made them believe that not all food can be a challenge in the kitchen if you truly know how to make it, and in the process changed TV cooking programmes forever.
Cohen and West’s documentary acts more as a tribute than a dramatic biography, but with fluid editing combining archive footage and present-day talking heads, and the use of a beautiful, largely classical score by Rachel Portman, Julia flows with poetic freedom, and the documentary satisfies the tastebuds with a level of warmth that makes for very wholesome viewing.
Julia is released in select cinemas on 8th April 2022.
Watch the trailer for Julia here: