Friday, September 3, 2010

New Release: Eat, Pray, Love

I finally got around to seeing the new Julia Roberts movie.  I was really looking forward to the movie, I really liked the book.  Mostly I was really curious to see how they could make someone's personal inner journey come to life.  It turns out not very well.  Roberts plays real-life author, Elizabeth Gilbert, stuck in a lonely marriage with Billy Crudup.  She leaves him, but immediately gets swallowed up by a relationship with an artist, James Franco.  When she realizes she's going to make the same mistakes, and stay in a bad relationship, she decides to set out on a journey to find herself. 
Her goal was to eat and find a passion for food again.  The book describes the large weight loss she goes through during the stress of her divorce and relationship, but the book skips over it completely.  So the idea of going to eat doesn't make a ton of sense.  But watching her travel around Italy and eat and enjoy being by herself was pretty neat.  She moves her eyes around a lot and smiles to show she's taking it all in.  Then she goes to an ashram (yoga/meditation place) in India.  She wants to seek a spiritual connection of some sort.  This was the most dull part of the book and most beautiful part of the movie.  It was dull to listen to her describe her meditation experience.  I practice meditation myself and it's like listening to someone describe their dream or nightmare, it only makes sense to them.  However, Julia Roberts meet Richard from Texas, played gruffly and touchingly by Richard Jenkins.  He calls her "groceries" because she eats twice as much as anyone (having just come from the "Eat" part of her trip, she has practice).  They get along well and he pretty much speaks in bumper stickers, but acknowledges it (which doesn't actually make it good dialogue).  But their friendship is nice. 
Then for no obvious reason she moves on to Bali, because an old medicine man she met there once said she'd return, so she does.  She hangs out with him, asking him to teach her his theories on life.  He's cute, toothless and funny.  He reads her palm and says she'll have another long marriage this time.  When she's out biking one day, Javier Bardem nearly runs her off the road.  They meet at a party that night, start dating and fall in love pretty quickly.  They do have terrific chemistry, but it's hard to see any changes in Roberts' after her year-long journey to find herself.  She seems just like the same person from the beginning, willing to lose herself in another man and not capable of taking care of herself and being herself.  Overall, the movie really failed to capture the journey she takes in the book.  It was a difficult interior journey, and the book helps it play out with real detail that the movie just couldn't bring out.  It's a decent movie, with a few laughs, beautiful scenery and Javier Bardem.  2.5 of 5 stars/lambs

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