Critically and commercially, Nora Ephron's film career has been divided between success (Sleepless in Seattle) and failure (Bewitched). The parallel true stories of women and food in Julie and Julia bring her strengths and weaknesses together in one film.

Critically and commercially, Nora Ephron's film career has been divided between success (Sleepless in Seattle) and failure (Bewitched). The parallel true stories of women and food in Julie and Julia bring her strengths and weaknesses together in one film.

In 2002, to escape the stress of a day job with the city of New York fielding medical claim calls from 9/11, Julie Powell (Amy Adams) begins a year-long blog project to cook all 524 recipes in Julia Child's groundbreaking Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

Intercut with Julie's struggles with recipes, deadlines and the accompanying strain on her marriage is Child's (Meryl Streep) own history of discovering French cuisine in the 1950s with her husband Paul (Stanley Tucci, in top form), and her determination to make its recipes accessible to American housewives.

Like most Ephron films, this one can get a little cutesy and contrived, particularly the banter with Julie's gal pal Mary Lynn Rajskub. But it's saved by the filmmaker's affinity with quality actors.

Although Julia's story is inherently more interesting than Julie's, Adams keeps the disparity from becoming painful. On Child's side, Streep is an absolute delight.

The actress nails her bird voice and dotty quality, but the mannerisms are infused with an irrepressible joie de vivre and an appreciation for Child's unspoken disappointments. And the chemistry between Streep and Tucci is the only thing that comes off as more delicious than all the food the film's cooks serve up.