Based on this title there are three things in the world needed to bring oneself out of an overwhelming depression that has ruined one’s sense of direction in life. First one must eat to build strength and energy for the long journey ahead. With a full stomach and a foot placed hesitantly on the trail, one must pray that they don’t fall from the beaten path because danger lies ahead. But if faith is not enough, then find someone that can grab your hand and help you on your way. Hand in hand you will now have no problem of finding the finish line of self-fulfillment and happiness. Wait, was that not what I was supposed to pull from this film? I really have no idea…
Based on the memoir of the same name by Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Pray Love follows Liz (played by Julia Roberts) during her travels across the world. She gives up her husband and the life she knows at home in order to take a year long quest to go searching for herself in mounds of food in Italy, through prayer in India, and through inner balance in Bali, where she unexpectedly finds love as well.
I may be a little biased on this opinion, but between this and Scott Pilgrim, Eat Pray Love is by far the weaker adaptation of the two films being released this weekend. Though I have never read the memoir, there is no doubt in my mind that this journey is much better on the page than on the screen. In the beginning Roberts looks a mess, drowning in a state of depression. She abruptly ends her marriage to Billy Crudup’s character, who is by far way too charming to leave in this way, making Liz seem selfish when she decides to go gallivanting around the globe to “find herself”. But before she does this she tries finding herself through the younger actor (played by James Franco). Two seconds later she has moved from being in love to heart broken with yet another man, and trying to peel herself off the floor. At this point of the film I am already completely unsympathetic to the character, slightly annoyed, really, really bored, and feel completely drained. And then the food comes…
When a gallon of ice cream is no longer enough to drown one’s sorrows in, why not visit one of the places known in the world for its food. Here Liz eats and eats and eats some more, only taking a break to (effortlessly) learn the native language and buy bigger pants before diving back in mouth first. Sure she explores some of the sights and makes some friends, but the food got a dedication in the title, so let’s stick to the eating. So now not only am I still a little uninterested in her character and still rather bored, but I am starving as well.
You know when you were little and your mom told you to wait 30 minutes after eating to jump back into the pool or else you might cramp up and drown? After watching her eat that much food I figured something exciting would finally happen with the change in location, but the “pray” section is about as exciting as waiting at the side of the pool waiting for food to digest. But at least the view from the sideline is rather breathtaking. With the sights of Italy, India, and Bali filling the screen this truly is a beautiful movie when the opportunity is given to just look around at the locations used for the shoot. These locations steal focus, as well as the people she meets along the way, and in the end I was more caught up in where she is and these random people she is meeting rather than why she was there and what was happening with her.
Like I said above I honestly am not really sure what I am supposed to take from this film other than a growling stomach and a want to travel. There is no sense of progression as she searches for herself in these three random countries, and I am not really sure what she found once she got to the end. All I know is that she was gone for a year, I felt like I sat in that theater watching this film for a year, without seeing a years worth of time and the progression she should have been able to accomplish in that chunk of time. Maybe the book would do a better job of filling in the gaps.
Final Grade: C