Eat Pray Love (Columbia Pictures, PG-13)

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We loved the richness of emotions, of giving yourself permission to enjoy and simply be. And then…it stalled.

 

I felt the same way watching Eat Pray Love the movie as I had while reading the book. Wait; scratch that. I felt similarly yet differently.
When I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir, I was at first shocked by how blunt it was. She laid bare every aspect of her life, there for we readers voraciously turning pages. We were let into her anguish, her heartbreak, her head…and her bed. Gilbert dished as if the whole world—well, the part of the world who would pick up her book—were her best girlfriend. The fact that we hardly knew her made her revelations seem, well, rather scandalous.
While I don’t remember the prologue—that which came before the life-changing trips—being terribly long in the book, in the movie it seemed to drag on, and on, and on. Yes, we get it: Your marriage failed. Yes, we see: You fell into bed with a much younger man. And yes, we saw this coming: It didn’t work out.
As with the book, the first triad—the trip to Italy—was luscious and life-affirming. We went along for the ride as Liz learned to truly enjoy food, and built some really good friendships despite the language barriers or the unfamiliarity of the city. We loved the richness of emotions, of giving yourself permission to enjoy and simply be. And then…it stalled.
As in the book, the two countries which followed—India and Bali—seemed less than. The side story of Liz’s young Indian friend and her arranged marriage paled in comparison to her unlikely friendship with fellow ashram’er and loud American Richard—and even that seemed forced. Oh sure, Ketut (the guru in Bali) was adorable; just to see his toothless smile was almost enough to carry that portion of the film. But after Italy, something was missing…and, like the book, the movie never got it back.
Oh sure, Julia Roberts is a joy to behold. But she is in every single minute of this long (2:20) movie, and even she, after a while, grows old. I’d say the scenery is gorgeous as well but I’ve never been one for cinematic panoramas. The places were well established by shots both close up and far away; that’s all I’m giving you.
So yeah, as I mentioned, the movie’s long—and it really begins to feel that way. There are some parts that were so barely covered they weren’t even worth putting into the film, such as the donations Liz guilted her friends into making for the Bali healer to buy her own home. If you hadn’t read the book, you would have been left scratching your head at this brisk treatment.
That said, Eat Pray Love is not an unenjoyable movie; far from it. But it’s also far from being the summer blockbuster it promised to be. While it’s still a good girls’ night out, don’t expect to be magically transported as Liz was; rather, be prepared to sit back and enjoy the ride (even if your ass does fall asleep). You’ll still walk away with some gleams of wisdom that, hey, may be the first steps toward changing your own life. | Laura Hamlett
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