Unlike her earlier works (which relied just a bit too heavily on writing gimmicks and funny-but-unlikely dialogue), all of the humour of Nora Ephron's Julie & Julia comes straight from the authenticity of the performances. There's no scenery chewing or comic extravagance, but the sheer believability of the characters and how they speak/interact with each other gives this film a heart that compensates for the relatively low-key comedy. Meryl Streep, of course, knocks it out of the park as Julia Child. The presence and personality that bubbles forth from her performance is instantly appealing, especially her assertively chipper line delivery and extremely infectious laugh. Equal to Streep's turn is Stanley Tucci, who plays Child's husband Paul with natural warmth and tenderness. Their on-screen chemistry is a delight to watch. Not quite as enjoyable but every bit as convincing is the relationship between Julie Powell and her husband Mark (Amy Adams and Chris Messina), whose lives in contemporary New York parallel those of Julia and Paul's in post-war France. Some may accuse it of being a fluffy picture, which is certainly is, but the performances are wonderful to behold. Alexandre Desplat contributes a feather-light musical score that seems every bit as bouncy and airy as Ms. Child herself.
Meryl Streep's nomination in Best Actress seems certain at this point, but beyond that I wouldn't count on too much awards attention. Consideration for Stanley Tucci is definitely due, but they may go for his darker turn in the upcoming The Lovely Bones instead.
*** out of ****