It goes without saying that, in most instances, the book is better than the movie. (Or, as the case may be, the television series. What Gossip Girl did to the character of Jenny Humphrey is almost criminal.)
Books generally surpass their corresponding movies because they can tell more of the story. Books are, by nature, longer, and they can also provide backstory without having to resort to flashback sequences. They can directly explain how a character feels without having to rely on an actor to convey the emotion. Perhaps most importantly, books allow the reader to create the scene in his or her own imagination, whereas movie viewers are presented with only the director’s view.
This is not the case with Julie & Julia. I read the book back in January, and I wasn’t exactly smitten with it. I thought there was too much technical discussion of the recipes (and this is coming from a girl who likes to read her cookbooks), and, quite frankly, I didn’t like the narrator. (I feel awful saying that because I know she’s a real person, but I really didn’t think she came across as very likable. I’m going to give her the benefit of the doubt and assume that’s just how she cast herself in the book.)
We watched the movie tonight, however, and I enjoyed the movie much more than the book. The movie glossed over some of the long discussions of cooking, and it gave the audience more Julia Child, who was delightfully portrayed by Meryl Streep. Additionally, my problems with the narrator vanished because, well, it’s hard not to find Amy Adams adorable.
It’s always a surprise when I like a movie better than a book, and I’m curious to see if the same holds true for Eat Pray Love, another book with an only semi-likable real life narrator.