Eat Pray Love

20 Aug

Title: Eat Pray Love
Year: 2010
Director: Ryan Murphy
Writers: Ryan Murphy and Jennifer Salt, adapting from the memoir by Elizabeth Gilbert
Starring: Julia Roberts, Javier Bardem, Billy Crudup, Richard Jenkins, Viola Davis, James Franco, Christine Hakim
MPAA Rating: PG-13, brief strong language, some sexual references and male rear nudity
Runtime: 133 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating: 4.7
Rotten Tomatoes: 38%

Eat Pray Love is a film I ended up liking way more than I initially thought I would, I thought it was a seriously good film, shot on some beautiful locations and starring one of the most charming women to ever grace the screens, Julia Roberts. Yes, it was a bit too shallow, and it didn’t carry through the book’s emotional journey in the most effective of ways, but it’s still a very good film, and I won’t tire of saying just how amazing Ms. Roberts is, she’s truly one of a kind, the real definition of a movie star, something that’s becoming all too rare to come across these days.

Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir upon which this film is based was a phenomenon when it came out at the start of 2006, and it went on to spend over three years on the New York Times Bestselling list. It was a book about herself, a woman who after her divorce went to Italy and India and Bali, in a quest to find the perfect balance between body and mind. In the movie version of this tale Ms. Roberts would obviously be the perfect choice to play Ms. Gilbert, she’s insanely beautiful, wonderfully funny and seriously intelligent, and that’s what the Gilbert role needed to be. And yeah, there are quite a lot of handsome men, led by Javier Bardem, that will have the film’s target demographic even more interested in the film than they already would be.

I read the memoir a bit over a year ago, and I liked it, I liked the sincerity with which Ms. Gilbert wrote, I liked seeing how she pretty much came out and said that her marriage ended because she got tired of it and walked out on her husband, which is played by Billy Crudup in this film. I found Ms. Gilbert to be rather remarkable and quite real, which is why, I imagine, the millions of women worldwide connected with her in the way they did. This was a woman who wasn’t pretending to be perfect, she was just writing about a time in her life that would prove to be revelatory, about the feelings that got her to that point and about what she did after that.

The ‘eat’ portion of the book and film take place in the eating capital of world, Italy, and if those scenes don’t get you hungry then there’s something kind of wrong with you, and the locations are gorgeous and she gets to meet the James Franco character and it’s all very lovely, and a terrific start to the film. The ‘pray’ part of the film sends us to India for three months, where we dabble in meditation and try to find our spiritual side, it also sends us to Richard Jenkins, one of the finest supporting actors we have working today, who gives us, along with Ms. Roberts, one of the more emotional moments in the film. And finally, for the ‘love’ part, we go to Bali and we meet Javier Bardem, who in Vicky Cristina Barcelona showed he has the charming, suave and handsome role down to a science, and he plays his part really well, he’s great as Felipe in this film, a man in similar situations as Gilbert’s and a man with whom she begins a fling.

Yes, this is a chick-flick, and one the over-25 female demographic will eat up. And why shouldn’t they? They are the ones that read the memoir, they are the ones who love Julia Roberts (though we all should, she’s perfect), and they’re the ones who can relate like crazy to everything that’s shown here, the one’s who’ll laugh and cry the most at the theatre. And when one is reviewing movies I think one should rate them in comparison to similar films, or in context of what the movie aims to be, and that’s why I’ll give a good grade to this film, because I thought it did what it set itself out to do, and it did it superbly well.

Plus, you know what, I actually loved the fact that this was a film for women about women, because it was a take on that sort of film that we actually haven’t seen in a while. I mean, the golden standard in Hollywood for these sort of films is to have a woman go on a journey in which finding a man is an essential part of, that’s the formula that has been fed to, and been gloriously eaten up by the masses, but this one’s different, this is a journey about a woman who just wants to do her own thing, and finding a man is not her top priority when embarking on her journey. And yeah, she ends up finding Mr. Bardem’s character, Felipe, but that was by chance, and the journey was just about her embracing herself and living life.

And I think that’s what the female audience wants nowadays the most, to have their main female characters do stuff for themselves and not for men, and that’s at least partly why, I think, a film like Julie & Julia managed to connect so much with women and make three times its budget. Not to mention The Blind Side, which made more than ten times its budget, and earned its female leading lady, Sandra Bullock, an Academy Award.

Eat Pray Love is a film that’s very sure of itself, a genuine one, one that translates Ms. Gilbert’s memoir tremendously, I mean yeah, it came off at times as a bit too shallow, and the whole emotional weight the book had wasn’t carried through as amazingly as it was in the book, but this is still a very good film, one that stars Julia Roberts, America’s sweetheart, in a witty role perfect for her style and that was directed by Ryan Murphy a man who, if you have seen his television series Nip/Tuck, can be harsh but that, if you have seen Glee, his other series, can also be quite tender, and he’s tender in this one, tender about the journey he’s helping tell. And yeah, in the end with Felipe I guess this one thwarts the idea I stated in the above paragraph about this one being about feminine independency and not so much about finding a man, but I stand by that statement above, I think the man was just a consequence about being so independent, she didn’t set out to find love. Just like I didn’t set out to enjoy Eat Pray Love nearly as much as I did, this one was just a joy to watch for me.

Grade: B+


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