Created on Sunday, 10 October 2010 15:38
Written by Elaine
In director and co-screenwriter Ryan Murphy's take on the book "Eat Pray Love", Julia Robert takes off in a postcard-perfect journey of self-discovery, gorgeous men and ample of food porn.
Successful writer but dissatisfied wife Liz Gilbert (Julia Roberts) drops the divorce bomb abruptly – on both husband (Billy Crudup) and audience – when she realises she no longer wants to be married one lonely night. She quickly delves into a relationship with a very attractive actor, David (James Franco), only to leave him when she finds herself "losing herself". So now, upon walking out on two men, the freshly-divorced and recently broken-up lady takes off to Italy, India and Bali in Indonesia in the pursuit of happiness.
In Italy ("Eat"), the beautiful cliches take over – the city of life's best pleasures – sex and food. Expect all the familiar from friendly, loud Italians with exaggerated hand gestures, blaring accordion music and of course, pretty woman Roberts lovingly takes on a plate of spaghetti, slurping each bite in with delight. Here's a quick note: please do not sit in this show hungry. Food would be all you will be thinking about throughout.
Next, in India ("Pray"), brace yourself for you will experience the same frustration Gilbert and I felt – her in her emotional distress and my anguish in watching her in her tormentingly long leg at the Indian ashram.
Lastly, in Bali ("Love"), she finds her balance while studying with the town's revered medicine man Ketut Liyer (Hadi Subiyanto). It is also here one would realise that this is a movie made for the masses with its typical romantic comedy ending. Gilbert meets Brazilian divorcee Felipe (Javier Bardem), who threatens to put her off balance all over again. And as all commercial productions, you know how the story ended.
However, "Eat Pray Love" loses its sense of authenticity, which is one great reason for the book version's popularity, precisely thanks to the flawless scenery and the good-looking men. The film could also be likened to a crammed up package tour of the book – major points in the plot were given the touch-and-go treatment. Some things are just too rushed in, laid out and, well, too perfect.
Nonetheless, the movie has its highlights – mostly brought about by the many interesting and enlightening people Gilbert meets on her journey. In Rome, there's Scandinavian (Tuva Novotny) and language teacher (Luca Argentero) to show Gilbert the savour the pleasures of life. In Bali, there's two healers and her happily-ever-after. But who really left an impression was Richard Jenkins, who plays a Texan with bumper-sticker speeches and who struggles to forgive himself for his alcoholic past as Gilbert attempts to forgive herself for abandoning her own marriage.
The book might have stayed on as a New York Times bestseller for 150 weeks, but I highly doubt the movie would be just as successful, especially so if without excellent actors like Roberts and Jenkins. While the book was an inspirational compelling look into the private journey of Gilbert's self-discovery, the movie could be easily dismissed as a slightly above average life lessons type film, unable to recapture that quiet, genuine confessional story the writer put so well in words. So watch if you must for the actors and the beautiful scenes, without expecting the same impact from the book.
Related links: Eat Pray Love book review
, Eat Pray Love official site
, Eat Pray Love Facebook page