A married woman realizes how unhappy her marriage really is, and that her life needs to go in a different direction. After a painful divorce, she takes off on a round-the-world journey to "find herself".
Liz Gilbert (Roberts) had everything a modern woman is supposed to dream of having - a husband, a house, a successful career - yet like so many others, she found herself lost, confused, and searching for what she really wanted in life. Newly divorced and at a crossroads, Gilbert steps out of her comfort zone, risking everything to change her life, embarking on a journey around the world that becomes a quest for self-discovery. In her travels, she discovers the true pleasure of nourishment by eating in Italy; the power of prayer in India, and, finally and unexpectedly, the inner peace and balance of true love in Bali. Written by
If you've kept up with my reviews (lets pretend you have), you are going to find that the genre I touch most seldom is the romantic comedy. They are by nature a contagious quagmire of failed puns, roads repaved with familiar plots, and their stars have signed with the devil. Enter Julia Roberts, queen of the romcom. No doubt a talented actress, if not the most famous of her generation, Julia has played a big role in cashing in on the average woman's dream.
In her latest effort Julia plays Liz Gilbert in the autobiographical book turned movie Eat Pray Love. Liz is a writer visiting Bali in search of a wise/toothless medicine man. He reads the palm of her hand and she takes everything to gospel. Leaving behind husband Stephen (Billy Crudup), Liz seeks out new adventure in the form of exotic cuisine, Eastern religion, and male suitors.
Eat Pray Love is directed by Ryan Murphy. Murphy is best known as the creator of Glee, last year's breakout TV show about misfits who triumph through song. With his name in the mix people are going to be disappointed that Julia and friends don't break out into song and dance. Even if you consider that Murphy could have interests outside of musicals, you'd expect some sassy dialog exchanges like those seen on the show between the characters Will Schuester and Sue Sylvester. Hate to disappoint you but that's not going to happen either.
Julia Roberts is a darling despite the degrading material and I'm sure the draw of her chowing down will appeal to the target demographic until they realize that phase is left behind once Liz leaves Italy. If this were the story of a woman looking for the best things in life, I wouldn't take as much issue as I do. See, that's how one half of the population would view the plot. I see it more along the lines of a typical entry in the long catalog of films where the female lead has no idea what she's looking for in her life so she does whatever is irrational and fun because that's how movie magic works. Liz throws out a man who has given the viewer no reason for dismissal, but this is standard procedure in a chick flick because here woman can do anything and their lives will always improve. I've encountered far too many girls who take these plots to heart and implement them in the real world, leaving a trail of confused men in their wake. I'm a guy, and I'm not dumb enough to think that all the explosions I see in the films designed for my gender need to be realized at home.
What Eat Pray Love has going for it is a borderline competency that lifts it slightly above film festival rejects. Actually the presence of A-list talent and obvious travel expenses add more to the production value than any cinematic technique on display. Many scenes are littered with mishandled lights, resulting in a glaucoma simulation that gave me a headache. It's even a tossup as to whether or not to anoint the audio as clear since half of Javier Bardem's dialog would be read as inaudible should one rent the Blu-ray down the road and turn on subtitles. Speaking of Bardem, his character's late appearance goes against every screen writing rule. In fact, it felt like I was two hours into Eat Pray Love before I started to question whether or not I had seen him in the TV spots.
There is so little of consequence taking place that I don't understand why this is a movie. Plenty of books have plots that don't equate into a two-hour film and many of those actually have tension. Liz's only conflict is from her own sociopath concepts. She's established early on as a poor playwright, highly gullible, and dare I say spoiled. These are not desirable traits. It's amazing how easily everyone accepts Liz. Italy, India, and Indonesia extend nothing but open arms and everyone who she turns to for advise is essentially the same character with the one exception being Richard from Texas (Richard Jenkins)the sole character that doesn't seem to exist for Liz's personal amusement. I haven't seen such a patronizing, boring, alleged comedy in years. Eat Pray Love is a marathon that will surely test any burgeoning relationship and possibly cause a divorce. Girls, if your male friend can stomach this you've either found an idiot or a liar. Pray for mercy.
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