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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Eat Pray Love

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Eat Pray Love

For the average person, especially during these hard economic times, putting your every day routine and obligations on hold to travel the world is nothing more than wishful thinking and unfortunately not an option.

That wasn't the case for Elizabeth Gilbert because she obviously could afford (monetarily and otherwise) to take a break from her everyday life and go on a journey around the world in her search for self discovery and inner peace that was detailed in her 2006 best selling memoirs, of which this film is based.

Julia Roberts stars as Gilbert, a successful writer, who suddenly comes to the conclusion that she no longer wants to be married to her adoring husband, Stephen (Billy Crudup). Nor does she have the desire to have a child. What she does feel and announces in a prayer to God is being in “trouble” and desperate to find some balance in her life. So, inspired by the prophesy of a medicine man she befriended during an earlier trip to Bali, Liz decides to divorce Stephen and embark on a year long journey that will take her to three exotic locations. But that is not before she has a romantic fling with David (James Franco) a young, handsome actor, and devotee of an Indian guru, who catches her eye while performing in a play she wrote.

After dumping David, Liz takes off alone, spending four months each in Italy, India and Bali. In Rome, she hooks up with newfound friends including, Sofi ((Tuva Novotny) a Swedish blonde and takes lessons in speaking Italian. Most important, Liz's Rome adventure centers on food, lots of eating, and allowing herself to indulge in and enjoy all the fattening, delicious Italian dishes including pasta, pizza and desserts, without any guilt, even though it means putting on seven pounds and a “muffin top”.

In India, a three month stay at an Ashram is more about feeding the soul through the power of daily prayer and meditation. That's where she comes in contact with Richard from Texas (a standout performance by Richard Jenkins), another troubled soul with issues who, after first bumping heads with Liz, eventually becomes her spiritual advisor and friend. He nicknames her “Groceries” because of the amount of food she packs in. The most moving scene in the film is when Richard opens up to Liz and reveals his tragic past and regrets.

While at the Ashram, Liz also befriends Nyomo (I. Gusti Ayu Puspawati) a pretty, sweet natured teenage Indian girl who is being forced by her parents into an arranged marriage. The young girl's predicament is an eye opening, stark contrast to the free will choices Liz has as an American woman.

Finally, its on to Bali. Liz settles into a fabulous jungle villa, makes a return visit to the toothless medicine man who offers her some wise advice, and encounters a hunky, sensitive, divorced Brazilian named Felipe (Javier Bardem) who becomes the love of her life.

Eat Pray Love is a pretty movie with pretty people (Roberts, Crudup, Franco, Bardem). Cinematographer Robert Richardson's (Shutter Island, Inglourious Basterds) beautifully shot scenery is enticing. That said, the film works more as a picturesque travelogue than an inspiring journey. I sooo want to get on a plane and visit each and every one of those countries. Chick flick or not, I didn't feel a connection to Elizabeth Gilbert's struggle to find herself. Here is woman who seemed to have it all; a great life in New York with a handsome husband who adored her, a wonderful job, and yet she chose to pack it all in, after breaking not one heart, but two, because she felt “unfulfilled”. Please! “Give me a break”. She comes across as self indulgent and someone I didn't care about. Most women would die to have the life she left behind.

There must be a reason millions of readers loved the book and found it so inspirational. Not having read it, I can only suppose much was left on the pages that didn't transcend to the big screen. I am an admirer of director Ryan Murphy (the creator of TV's popular Glee) and his co-writer Jennifer Salt's (who worked with Murphy on TV's Nip/Tuck) former work. However, this is a disappointment.

I was inspired, but not by Liz's soul searching quest. I was inspired to “EAT” mass quantities of highly caloric, scrumptious food and “PRAY” my husband, the man I “LOVE”, would get a raise so we could afford and plan a much needed vacation abroad.

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