Sunday, August 15, 2010


You will have an uncontrollable urge to eat Pasta and Thin-Crust Pizza after seeing this. Sony Pictures' Eat Pray Love might take a few liberties with the Elizabeth Gilbert memoir in which it is based upon, but overall it succeeds as a movie-going experience.

Eat Pray Love, directed by Glee's Ryan Murphy, follows the story of successful writer Liz Gilbert (Julia Roberts) who decides that she is no longer satisfied with her marriage, leaving her husband Stephen (Billy Crudup). As predicted by a Medicine Man named Ketut (Hadi Subiyanto) whom she visits in an off-chance in Bali, she will lose everything before going on a year-long journey, which brings her back to him full circle.  He predicts she will gain everything back again in due time, but in order to do so she must complete this said journey. Thus, in finding herself, she takes a transcontinental trip leaving her life, possessions and friends like Delia (Viola Davis) in New York.  She travels to Italy, India and finally Indonesia. 

Liz is forced to face her biggest inner-demon - that is - finding and loving herself. Along the way though, she gets involved with an alluring young actor in David (James Franco); learns Italian while gaining much weight from Italy's sumptuous cuisine; masters the art of Meditation in India while befriending a no-nonsense Texan named Richard (Richard Jenkins) and finally finds love in Indonesia unexpectedly with a world-traveling Brazilian hunk Felipe (Javier Bardem).  All play a pivotal role in teaching her life lessons.  Oh, yeah.

You really do get your money's worth with Eat Pray Love, clocking in at over 140 minutes. It is a gorgeous cinematic experience, thanks to the fantastic work by Cinematogpraher Robert Richardson.  Murphy's direction is spot-on as he elicits pitch-perfect performances full of depth and history, from Roberts, Bardem, Franco, Jenkins and Davis. Roberts in particular puts forth a very committed performance, capturing Liz's flighty free-spiritedness. She is a master of being "done to" and her smile can dictate the feel of a scene entirely.

The biggest problem with this film lies in the adaptation process.  Jennifer Salt and Ryan Murphy's script somehow fails to explain the story behind Liz's perpetual unhappiness with clarity. We only understand that she is dissatisfied with her marriage, but is it really reason enough to warrant this extreme transition, we wonder? In the novel however, we get a better sense of Liz's internal struggle, her battle with Depression and night after night of crying on her Bathroom floor, which gets omitted on-screen. Instead, time is devoted unnecessarily to building story lines during Liz's stay in India, touching upon the idea of Arranged/Loveless Marriage, ultimately falling flat. In all honesty, this only prolonged an already plodding section of the film. We soon forget about all of this with the electric chemistry between Roberts and Bardem, which pretty much lights up the last 30 minutes of the film beautifully.

Let's face it - this just isn't a Guys' Movie. Perhaps also, it is too intent on pleasing its female audience. Anyone walking in expecting a gut-wrenching epic might feel a bit disappointed. The struggles depicted here just aren't heart-wrenchingly engaging, but if viewed as a feel-good form of escapism - which is what the story really is - undoubtedly, Eat Pray Love succeeds with flying plates of Pasta.  Grade: B+

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