Henry: I don't agree that the film positions cooking as a kind of second place to child bearing. The one thing the film did masterfully, I think, was to show that food is really THAT GOOD. And I think it tapped into our current cultural climate, elevating cooking from drudgery to art. And I think the awesomeness of cooking and food allowed the film to (largely) avoid the post-feminist conundrum of professional vs. personal. In the case of Child and Powell, their professional pursuits enriched their personal pleasure and relationships.
Although now that I think about it, that's not entirely true. Amy Adams' character did have a predictable melt down and fight with her husband over. . .something, I wasn't entirely sure what. Not coincidentally, perhaps, that's where the Powell plot got boring and lost me.
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