Julia Child has been the subject of a number of documentaries and films since her death in 2004. From Julie & Julia to Julia! America's Favorite Chef, filmmakers have tried to capture the essence of the icon, but Julie Cohen and Betsy West’s Julia made real strides to show the duality of her as both a woman and an icon.
Julia is a Delectable Look at Julia Child’s Life
Julia Child not only shaped our opinions on cuisine, but she challenged our perception of what a mature woman was capable of achieving. Because of her later-in-life success, oftentimes documentaries treat her early years as an afterthought, but not Julia. Her life is laid out chronologically, painting the full picture of who Julia was as a young woman and how she evolved into the Julia Child we all know and love.
The documentary starts with a careful examination of her adolescence, including her relationship with her conservative father and his attempts to keep her within that carefully constructed world. These early moments are crucial to understanding how a life abroad and her marriage to Paul Child shaped her into a woman that would later publicly support Planned Parenthood and hold an AIDS fundraising dinner.
Julia is not just comprised of archival footage from The French Chef or her beloved series with Jacques Pépin, it is filled to the brim with never-before-seen footage and photos, private writings, a beautiful collection of interviews from her family, friends, and those who had the privilege of working alongside her like Charlie Gibson, and chefs inspired by her like José Andrés, Ina Garten, and Marcus Samuelsson.
“Food is love, isn’t it? ‘cause it gets everybody together.”
While Julia does not necessarily reveal anything new about Julia Child, it is a love letter to a remarkable woman who had an impact on several generations of chefs and food lovers. There are loose threads left untouched, but to encompass such a remarkable life in the span of only 95 minutes — it’s to be expected.
As someone who grew up watching Julia & Jacques Cooking at Home and went to see the “Julia Child's Kitchen” exhibit at the Smithsonian, I was enthralled by Julia and the clear passion that Cohen and West clearly have for their subject. Julia is the perfect documentary for anyone who wants to revisit the magic of hearing “Bon appétit.”
Julia is set to premiere on November 5th, 2021. It had its world premiere at Telluride Film Festival, with its international release at the Toronto International Film Festival this past weekend.
Check out our full coverage of the Toronto International Film Festival.