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Soundtrack Review

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Original Motion Picture Soundtrack


Composer: Rachel Portman
Label: Lakeshore Records
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 19 November 2021

Lakeshore Records release the original soundtrack for Julia, featuring music by composer Rachel Portman. The score, redolent of piano and strings, reflects all of the traits associated with Julia Child - joyful, amorous, soulful and strong. The film brings to life the legendary cookbook author and television superstar who changed the way Americans think about food, television, and even about women. Using never-before-seen archival footage, personal photos, first-person narratives, and cutting-edge, mouth-watering food cinematography, the film traces Child's 12-year struggle to create and publish the revolutionary Mastering the Art of French Cooking (1961) which has sold more than 2.5 million copies to date, and her rapid ascent to become the country’s most unlikely television star...

Rachel Portman delivers a wonderfully layered score for Julia. There's quirky themes ('Such a Character' reminded me of the background music for the early Sims games); subtle moments of reflection ('The Only Woman') and joyous moments of celebration ('Bon Appetit').

Basically, Portman has all the ingredients for a wonderful feast and she cooks them expertly and presents them with perfection. However, this is not a soundtrack for everyone. Some may accuse it of being too twee, but it perfectly works in the movie and stands on its own two feet when listened to here.

Talking about the score, Portman says: "I love that Julia Child clearly loved food so much. I think making food for others is one of the greatest gifts we can give. There’s definitely something in us that goes back to our earliest days on earth and being fed by our mothers. Food gives nurture and cooking for others is a way of giving love. It’s nourishment for the soul. What can be more delightful than writing music for such a character as Julia? The directors Betsy and Julie were up for having fun in the score and words such as bad ass, edgy, trapped housewives preparing Spam and Pineapple dinners, sex, sensuality, and nostalgia were used to describe what they wanted from the music. So, as well as the theme of food and love, I didn’t shy away from being at times bold and funny with the score. At others it needed to be full of love and yearning. The film is a rich canvas for writing a score and I loved composing its music."

Maybe not a score you'll revisit all that often, but when you do you'll feel right at home.


Darren Rea

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