Monday, August 23, 2010

Eat Pray Love

Last night, I was spending the evening with my husband and son when I made the off handed remark, “I’m easy to please.” My son’s reply was, “Not when it comes to movies!” Maybe he’s right. Maybe it’s not the movies, but me. It seemed like movies used to be better. So many fall short for me these days. And, once again, they are too long!

It’s funny that I even wanted to see Eat Pray Love. I remember everyone going gaga for this book, but even reading the back cover, I failed to connect with author Elizabeth Gilbert. I didn’t really understand why her year traveling was considered a big deal since she already traveled extensively and wrote about it.

Being able to find your true self through travel after a divorce is a luxury that could only be afforded to someone without children. Certainly, I chose to have children and so I do not begrudge Ms. Gilbert of her adventures and discoveries. It’s just difficult to relate. Let’s put it this way: if I wrote a book about traveling for a year, it would be far from my comfort zone, since I have never been anywhere.

Alright, on to the movie. I had some serious issues with casting and storyline. I actually went back to the bookstore to look at the back flap of the book. Apparently, Elizabeth Gilbert was in her 30’s when she went on her self-discovery adventure. As a woman in my 40’s, believe me, there’s a big difference between your 30’s and your 40’s. The book seemed to be a big hit with women in their 40’s, maybe because of the Oprah push, and I guess that’s why they cast Julia Roberts. This decision, though, screwed up things in the movie. I’d say the youngest Julia Roberts could pass for is maybe 38. So when she tells Javier Bardem that her eight year marriage didn’t work because they were “young,” I felt like she couldn’t really use that excuse. If she was 32 instead, maybe I could accept it.

These issues weren’t just with her character. Bardem tells us he was a stay-at-home dad and once the children were all grown, he and his wife grew apart. Well, his 19 year-old son is in Bali with him and mentions the fact that his dad has been divorced for ten years. This would mean he was 9 when his parents split and hardly close to being grown. To me, this is plain sloppiness on the part of the filmmakers. If you’re going to take liberties with the original story, go through your whole story and be consistent.

Julia Roberts’ character (Liz) makes three stops in her travels: Rome, India and Bali. The Rome portion of this film felt like a Lifetime movie including a kicky little "let’s go buy jeans montage!" The cinematography of the food was beautiful, but when she was served a large plate of spaghetti and she coyly looks around her before diving in, I rolled my eyes and almost yelled out, “Give me a break!” If you want to see beautiful food and the important role it plays in life, go rent Big Night.

Now, I’m not ripping this whole movie to shreds. The portion when we see Liz in India is the best part of this film. Everything felt genuine and the performances of Richard Jenkins (Richard) and Rushita Singh (Tulsi), both brought me to tears. But just when I thought this film may redeem itself, she goes to her last stop, Bali.

In Bali, she meets Javier Bardem (Felipe). Her developing relationship with Bardem doesn’t feel believable at all, even though this is what happened in real life. It’s hard to root for these two to be together because he seems a lot like the husband she left. He’s cute, a little nerdy and is way more infatuated with her than she is of him. If we are to believe that Roberts has grown on her journey, the viewer is challenged to accept it when it appears she’s simply going to make the same mistakes again.

Also, by this time, the movie has completely overextended itself and you’re begging to be released. I’m not sure what lessons Ms. Gilbert learned in her adventures, but I know what I learned…if you weren’t interested in the book, definitely skip the movie!


Sally G. said...

Thank goodness for you! I thought I was completely alone in my inability to jump into the Eat, Pray, Love-fest.

I picked the book up several times in hopes that 'maybe this time I'll connect to it and I can be part of the phenomenon'. It NEVER happened.

I saw the author on Oprah waaaay back - and found her self-indulgent and off-putting.

I saw a TED talk she gave on creativity - and again found her a bit too narcissistic for my liking.

I have never understood the big deal about Julia Roberts - never. And from the get-go, felt she was a poor choice for the movie's lead and also attributed that selection to Oprah somehow.

Aaaah, I feel much better now. Thank you for your review.


a lot of movies these days are done half assed to be honest :D

Rae said...

Colleen, I totally agree with you. I really hoped to like Eat Pray Love, but I felt that it was long on time and short on substance. For a movie that is supposed to be about something as deep as finding yourself, it seemed very superficial to me. I haven't read the book, but I'm not so sure I'm all that interested now. Thanks for your take on it. Nice to know I'm not alone. :)

Endy Daniel said...

I never watched this movie, but i still remember Julia Robert came to Bali after I left Bali for holiday,lol

rtm said...

I had no interest in the book nor the movie, and I'm with you, can't relate to the author at all. It IS indeed a luxury to be able to do what she did, but there's more gripes I have about it as well. I put a link on my post about this movie (, it's a funny review of the movie that pretty much sums up why this movie doesn't appeal to me. I might see it just for the scenery though, the fact that I'm from Indonesia where the island of Bali is in (another gripe for me the fact that they make Bali sounds as if it's a COUNTRY!)

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

I'm interested to see how this turns out because I think Julia is more than not brilliant (loved her in Duplicity last year - very underrated).

Colleen said...

I'm so glad I wasn't alone here.

Fitz said...

With this and Expendables two weeks ago was a terrible release for film.

Karen said...

I am soooo critical of movies. It's hard for me to find one I really love. I had no interest in this one and my DH despises Julia Roberts so I doubt I'll ever see it which is ok with me!

iluvcinema said...

I saw it this weekend as well and was left with a similar empty feeling. Thought it was me. I have the book in my audible library; I suppose I will get around to reading it but just to (possibly) get a greater depth of what I saw this weekend. but if instinct is anything I think I will probably feel the same way.