Eat Pray Love (2010)
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Long story short, it's all of the arc of the book, without any of the passion. While never horrible, this film simply made me feel nothing.
I found the book soulful, moving, even transformative at times. The greatest emotion I felt from the film was hunger (for Italian pizza), thirst (for Italian wine), and an occasional dizziness due to director Ryan Murphy's apparent recent discovery of how to "pan." It was laughable camera-work throughout the first 45 minutes, and occasionally throughout.
The first 1/2 hour of the film was almost unbearably bad, even though the first section of the book was amongst my favorites. Perhaps someone who did not read the book could enjoy this movie, but I somehow doubt it. One time Liz made a joke, that was a nice break from the feeling of being in a lukewarm bathtub for 2 1/2 hours. Not unpleasant, just meh.
Instead of finding Liz intelligent and thoughtful, she seemed selfish, boring, and obsessed with men. Instead of finding spirituality, she seemed vapid. When the character becomes shallow, a film centered around that character becomes a throw away. Maybe I'll just watch the trailer again.
Only good looking men fall in love with Liz, and everyone admires her. She dumps her lovers and husband and the only friend that will tell her what she needs to hear, in the belief that "balance" lies so far outside herself that she has to travel the world (on a very tight schedule) to seek enlightenment. How she pays for it is never hinted at. And to have this bone-thin creature lecture another bone-thin creature on the need to "just enjoy eating, we can always buy a bigger pair of jeans" is insulting AND laughable. That the scene is followed by two bone-thin actresses faking attempts to "squeeze into" jeans is just insulting.
And the punch line? The woman who has wasted 2.5 hours of your life whining that everyone around her says she needs a man finally finds "balance"... by finding a man. And FYI EVERY man in this film is sensitive and caring. I have to say that the direction and very good supportive acting presents an effective image of all sorts of energetic life going on around Liz (and inviting her to be part of it) while she sits whining to herself in voice-over. But the unreality of EVERYONE LOVING HER is just a bit lame.
Fiction? Not much.
Oh, and why did I spend money to see this? A friend convinced me it would be great, and she is such a good friend and enjoyed it so much I will never tell her exactly how much I despised it. See? For people you care about sometimes you hold yourself back.
FYI Richard Jenkins is the only person Julia Roberts' Liz really connects to... and even that is ruined by a last-minute "Hollywood" moment. No spoiler here, you'll see it lumbering toward you like an elephant in the desert.
In the movie, Liz eats her way through Italy, struggles with meditation in India -- where she meets the most obnoxious, arrogant fellow traveler, played by Richard Jenkins, who browbeats her until she learns to cherish him as a friend -- then moves on to Bali where she falls in love and literally sails off into the sunset with him.
Throughout this tedious film, Liz's actions seem to reflect the influence of the person or persons with whom she has been with most recently; she doesn't seem to have a mind of her own, or heart, for that matter. The only spark of humanity that we see in Liz is when she emails her friends asking them to pass on getting her a birthday present and instead send month to help a divorced woman in Bali to afford a house for her and her young daughter; apparently divorced women in Bali have a rank slightly higher than dogs (nice place).
I've experienced the charms of Italy--its wonderful scenery and food, and somewhat insane men--and don't need this movie to entice me; however, I might be put off India and Bali as a result of seeing this movie. One could argue that it is always a pleasure to watch Julia Roberts, Javier Bardem and Billy Crudup, who blessedly all played themselves and not their miserable characters, none of which I would ever want to meet.
Is there a woman -- or man -- who would not love to chuck it all for a year and travel the globe in search of self-discovery? Most of us cannot do this because we have responsibilities and loyalties and are not financially independent. This drab story fails to connect on any level except for pointless self-indulgence. Instead, treat yourself to dinner at a nice Italian restaurant, dab on a little Shalimar and watch Gone With The Wind, a truly romantic epic with a narcissistic heroine who is interesting.
For instance, with Julia Roberts, Richard Jenkins, Billy Crudup, James Franco, and Javier Bardem, I had high expectations. I award one half star for each actor, and round up out of kindness.
But then... the movie started, and the most agonizing 2+ hours of my life ensued.
First, some background information. I went to see Eat Pray Love for my dear mother and free popcorn. She asked me earlier today, and I, being the loving son, agreed to accompany her.
Within ten minutes I had realized what a disastrous mistake I had made. I am an empathetic person, and I had no idea it was possible for a film to give me have no feelings whatsoever for protagonist.
That is not true, at times I wanted her to be hit by a train. I have never left a movie that I had paid for, but eventually my mother and I were plotting ways to escape. We settled on screaming "Mouse!" or "Rodent!" or "Fire!" but decided it was not worth the social awkwardness.
Instead we sat through, as I said, the most agonizing 2+ hours of film, ever. A summary ensues...
Whine-Whine-Divorce-Whine-Cry-Travel-Whine-Eat-Whine-Feminist Bullshit-Whine-Elevate Importance-Whine-Whine-Travel-Whine-Attempt Meditation-Whine-Get Better at Meditation with help of Hippie-Whine-Elevate Importance to Unknown Levels-Whine-Whine-Travel-Whine-Whine-"Fall in Love" I think that is pretty much it. Do not see this film.
A message for anyone (but particularly women) that sees themselves in Julia Roberts character: Get some much needed and overdue professional help with your problem. You have a deep psychological disorder and it is NOT OK to make people miserable because of it.
It turns out that the movie is about a smart, successful, somewhat good-looking author who has a very loving husband, am amazing job that lets her travel the world - and is still confused about her life and what she wants.
I thought there was going to be some tragedy or something that makes her want to leave her life.. but nope.. she's just been looking for a way out the whole time and putting the responsibility on a medicine man's palm reading, she leaves her husband, and her life.
As we travel with her, we realize that she's not really taking in what each of these places have to offer (except maybe for the language and non-verbal communication in Italy). The only thing we saw in India was the traffic and the arranged marriage of a minor. And Bali was more of a tourist departments commercial.
Essentially she was a superfluous tourist who just went to three different places without really making any kind of real journey.
The ending is formulaic with no deep meaning. The pace of the movie was very slow. Slow pace can be very good, if it makes the audience think or empathize. In this case, it didn't manage to do either.
I really wanted to walk out of this one. And now I'm curious why the book was so popular?
If this movie's main protagonist were a male, oh my God, could you imagine the female response? A male leaves his adoring, attractive wife to go bang foreign chicks while eating food? He would be considered a complete pig and further considered to be worth killing. These romcoms are now depicting women as these spoiled, privileged brats who are entitled to leave everybody else miserable while they "find themselves". And the people they destroy both mentally and emotionally still "understand" that their torturer is just finding herself. These movies continue to portray hurtful and harmful behavior as a "spiritual awakening". Julia Roberts plays the role of a spoiled, arrogant brat who is full of herself. After her jaunt to India maybe she wants to go join the other vapid female crew over in Dubai for a walk in the desert with no water.
In typical romcom fashion we have the arrogant female who leaves a trail of emotional wreckage in her wake (which we're supposed to discount completely as a sacrifice to the greater good of the female) while she searches the world for hippies, food and lovers. We have these sorry sack men who continue to tell her how great and special she is although she is the complete opposite of these things. We have arrogance and selfishness put on display and covered with a false veil of gold. This woman should be in court losing 1/2 of all her earnings to her husband whom she left to go whore about for no good reason. This woman should be the scourge of the Earth and should receive social contempt for her behavior. However, like most romcoms the female can hurt everyone she knows if it will aid her superficial quest for some kind of make believe fulfillment and then, like Stockholm Syndrome, all her victims will forgive her or tell her she is the most important thing in the world and her happiness comes before anybody or anything else. I can't believe men are still depicted as the heartless characters in films when every romcom depicts evil as good.
This movie made me cringe. I was forced to see it with mom, sister and wife. I told them all that the film literally made me sick. They agreed. This sort of behavior that is being engendered into women is sickening. Women who believe such a film represents anything positive about anything need to have their head checked for borderline personality disorder. Men need to stop treating women like little precious pieces of glass when those same women are not pieces of glass, are not these cute little powerless creatures but are instead, like Liz in the movie, arrogant, snotty, pampered, privileged, rude, morally bankrupt, conniving, selfish dolts who believe that their superficial happiness is worth any emotional cost to other people.
I want my money back. More important, I want my two hours back.
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.
I guess the moral of the story is that money can buy happiness.
This is the type of movie that makes people want to join the "occupy" movement. The whole point of the movie is that over-indulging is the way to find yourself and be happy.
And just to pour salt in the wound, in the scene where she is eating pasta in Italy is done to the music of Mozart's German opera "The Magic Flute." I guess nobody associated with this piece of trash was smart enough to tell the difference between Italian and German.
Do yourself a favor and skip this garbage.
I gave it a 2 instead of a 1 because a few of the supporting characters sometimes call out Liz (Julia Roberts) on her self-absorbed superficial antics. I liked them (the characters, not the antics).
Basically, Liz has a very nice life that is already pretty exciting. She's a writer in NYC who sometimes travels for her job. Her perfectly nice husband appears to love her a lot, thinks about issues like public education, and is interested in going back to school for an MA.
It just isn't enough for Liz, though.
She ditches her husband, has an affair, and speeds off to Italy as soon as the divorce is finalized. She eats. She goes to India, where she finds her ex-boyfriend's guru and prays. She goes to Bali, where she eventually falls in love.
Everywhere she goes, to the very end, Liz needs constant validation and guidance from others. She doesn't grow as a person; she just sees a bunch of stuff and meets a bunch of people.
The movie is too long, but Italy, India, and Bali are showcased nicely (if superficially). I bet Julia Roberts signed on because filming this must have basically been a paid vacation.
The script is pretty bad. Liz complains that one character always seems to talk in bumper stickers, but she should look at her own speech patterns.
I could see how this movie would appeal to some people as an escapist fantasy -- every once in a while, most people think about pushing the eject button on their life and doing something completely different. Still, the impulsive-decision, life-changing journey of self-discovery is a common movie type, and others have done it far, far better.
And yes, by the end, she's made umpteen life-long friendships, found her own guru and the power of zen, built a new home for a single-parent and child from contributions solicited from the afore-mentioned new pals and of course to top it all off, finds true love way out east to a handsome, swarthy Brazilian, who openly discusses his sex-life with his 19 year-old Australian (don't ask me why) son whom he kisses on the lips at goodbyes. Along the way she breaks the hearts of two young handsome guys, turns down another and connects seriously with everyone from a Swedish tourist and her tutor in Italy, a recovering Texan alcoholic and teenage girl going through an arranged marriage in India not forgetting her Latin lover, toothless ancient swami and his homeless nurse in Bali. Yes indeed, love surely grows where Lizzie goes.
The writing and acting are frequently look-away bad, the whole thing looking like a woman's magazine piece bloated out of all recognition. For some reason too, 70's music features heavily in the soundtrack - I just wondered what Neil Young might have made of two of his songs being pressed into action in support of this unbelievable, over-sentimental nonsense.
I can think of only one praiseworthy thing to say about this film...er, nice locations.
But enough about me, the supposed heroine in this movie is rather selfish, the movie applauds her selfishness, and in the end I don't think she has actually moved from where she started. I read another review that questioned why this is even a movie. My thoughts exactly. At one point in the movie Julia Robert's character, Liz, asks another character if he always speaks in bumper sticker. I was thinking that about the entire movie, almost right from the start. The only thing that got me through it was that I am an optimist and kept thinking it would get better. Some of the views were beautiful but there were moments when the camera was spinning around so much I was almost nauseous. So to sum it up, in Italy I wasn't watching Liz learn to enjoy nourishment, I was wondering who was going to do all the dishes. And in India I wasn't watching Liz learn to pray; I was wondering why she was praying to a picture frame of her ex-lover's guru. When she finally gets to Bali I thought maybe the movie would gain substance. Instead Liz jumps on a boat with a guy who was a little heavy handed in the control department because her guru gave her permission. In my opinion there was no "attraversi" for poor Liz. The only crossover she made was across the Atlantic.
The audience I sat with was just sitting there, waiting, wondering, expecting something to pop and take us away from that state of lifelessness. The film dragged interminably, and not much was happening. The experience was worse than seeing someone's vacation pictures. At least, there we have some meaning behind the shots, someone gives us a personal graphic representation of the trip, of those special moments. Amazingly, this film doesn't give us anything but some beautiful takes, some very boring scenes, a couple of tears for no reason at all, and lots of time to pray that this mess ends quickly.
Recently, I sat in another film, and by its exciting climax, after 90 minutes of subtitles and some tight writing, I thought my heart was going to jump out of my chest with all the emotion that was building there for a while. It wasn't a loud movie, a simplistic tale, or a gimmick. It was s simple story of someone's dreams coming true, only in the way movies can show it. Now, if that fictional piece delivered, why someone's real life experience, a proved fact by the way the book had been embraced, had failed some miserably.
Can we eat something while we pray that there is a remake we can love?
When I found out Julia Roberts was cast as the main character of Elizabeth, my interest was piqued, so, I looked forward to seeing the movie despite my initial hesitation.
Eat Pray Love opens this Friday but I had the chance to view the film early at a screening tonight. As I had feared, Ryan Murphy's film adaption of the book is flawed, at best. The short synopsis of my review before I give away spoilers is: You should not see this movie if you do not L-O-V-E Julia Roberts or if you have not read the book. As to the former, Julia is the only saving grace in this extremely prolonged movie--her natural charisma and charm are the only reasons I don't say run and run fast away from this movie. But even she cannot make this movie good given its many flaws. As to the latter, if you have not read the book, you just won't get what happens in the US, Italy and India. You all will probably enjoy the scenes in Bali, but then again, that doesn't justify seeing the movie in its entirety.
(Spoilers ahead.) The parts of the book which made the reader relate to Elizabeth on any level are entirely absent on film. Gone is any explanation of the breakdown of the marriage between Elizabeth and her husband, Stephen (played by Billy Crudup) or the prolonged struggle Elizabeth experienced before abandoning her marriage. There is no mention of the fact that Stephen wanted to start a family and Elizabeth's repulsion of the idea. There is no talk of both partners having witnessed the breakdown of Elizabeth into a "madwoman" or that they had been "fighting and crying" or that they had "the eyes of refugees." They are simply shown as a normal couple, living the high life in NYC until Elizabeth decided to leave Stephen.
Also painfully absent is any intensity, addiction, passion or heartache experienced with her boyfriend, David (played by James Franco). If you see the movie without having read the book, you will not understand why Elizabeth leaves this relationship either. She just looks like a shallow, pleasure-seeking, escapist.
Other major themes of the book are entirely stricken. You are never told that Elizabeth got an advance for her book and that is how she paid for the year-long trip or that she practiced celibacy on purpose on her trip to self-discovery. Like the major events in the States, the ones in Italy and India are equally rushed and glossed over. What's worse is that the movie lacked spirituality which is the underlying theme of the book.
At this point, I am running out of steam of how else to convince you that this movie is not very good - I think this movie sucked my energy. So, I will leave you with: See it if you love Julia or have read the book. Otherwise, go see something else. --Parisa Michelle, author, CelebMagnet.com