JULIA brings to life the legendary cookbook author and television superstar who changed the way Americans think about food, television, and even women. Using never-before-seen archival footage, personal photos, first-person narratives, and mouth-wateringly cutting-edge food cinematography, the film traces Julia Child’s 12-year struggle to create and publish the groundbreaking Mastering the Art of French Cooking (1961), which has sold over 2.5 million copies to date, and his rapid rise 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 age 50, and took America with her on this delightful journey.
For an in-depth reflection on Juliaplease see my colleague Dom Fisher’s review of its original theatrical release here.
For additional thoughts on the film, please check out an in-depth discussion on the Homedance Film Festival podcast.
Julia comes on DVD with a powerful 480p transfer that showcases the movie very well. This film is a mix of talking head interviews with good amounts of archival footage interspersed, which provides different levels of visual quality. Recent interviews obviously look a lot better than the inconsistent stock footage, especially with some vintage news clips that are very large. Overall, the quality of each source seems to be derived from the best available material. Skin tones look natural and details hold up pretty well. Colors are a bit flat and black levels are prone to crushing and compression artifacts. The image is a little soft in some environments, but the image is sharper with the new food preparation sequences. It may not be a high definition presentation, but the image is very sharp and quite pleasing given the limitations of the format.
The DVD comes with a Dolby Digital 5.1 track that does everything it needs to do well. The film is presented with English, Spanish and French subtitles for those who need them. The dialogue is fairly clear throughout with only occasional moments where the clip sounds blur the clarity of the subject’s words. Surround speakers add some texture to the proceedings, mostly in the form of musical cues and chatter. This trail appears to be free of any damage or other issues that would diminish your enjoyment. This presentation is about as good as the source material gets.
There are no special features provided on this disc.
Julia is a truly informative and entertaining film about one of the most unique figures in the culinary industry. Filmmakers Julie Cohen and Betsy West do a great job of celebrating her life without making her a holy figure. There’s so much to explore throughout Memorable Life, and they treat it so carefully. Plus, you have the added bonus of dazzling food preparation scenes that will have you dusting off your own cookbook and getting to work. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment released a DVD with decent A/V transfer, but a Blu-Ray would have been much preferred. On the strength of the movie alone, it’s worth checking out. advised
Julia is currently available for purchase on DVD and digital.
Note: Images shown in this review do not reflect DVD image quality.
Disclaimer: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has provided a free copy of this disc for review purposes. All opinions expressed in this review are the honest reactions of the author.
Dillon is most comfortable sitting in a theater all day watching both big-budget movies and indies.