In Eat Pray Love, Liz played by Julia Roberts is suffering from a year of discontent; unhappy in her eight year marriage and uninspired by her life she is having some sort of a crisis. After leaving her distraught husband, Steven played by Billy Crudup and ending a doomed rebound affair with a young actor she decides to take stock of her life. Liz decides to take a year out (as you do) to travel to Italy, India and Bali in order to find herself. What a cliche eh? Well keep reading because the cliches keep coming thick and fast.
In Italy Liz quickly makes friends with Sofi played by Tuva Novotny, a sassy Swede who has been in Rome for six weeks. She is introduced to the Italian way of life and spends many a time gorging pizzas and pasta dishes. Then she moves onto India where she spends most of her time praying in an ashram and meets up with Richard played by Richard Jenkins, the worldly, wise and slightly tragic Texan who teaches her to treasure life.
Pretty soon, in fact before you can blink Julia is in Bali and exploring the tranquality of the place. It is here where she meets Felipe played by Javier Bardem who is a free spirited Brazillian. The two are drawn to each other and predictably have a love affair. However, Felipe is serious about Julia and wants to settle down with her but is she brave enough to take the jump?
First of all I would like to point out that I have not read the book; it is on my TBR pile so I have nothing to compare it to. I would also like to point out that I was vey miffed about Julia Roberts playing the lead part. I am really no Roberts fan and apart from Erin Brockovich, Julia Roberts only seems capable of playing Julia Roberts.
I really wish Hollywood had had the guts to get a unknown actress to play the part. Secondly I found the movie to be one big cliche – unhappy woman jacks in job and marriage to travel round the world. How many times have we heard that? Alas Eat Pray Love had nothing else to add to the story. I did like the scenes in Italy as it showed Italian culture and Liz emersing herself in the country and bonding with her tribe.
However the scenes in india and Bali left me cold. I found them quite patronising. Alarmingly, a lot of the scenes in the book made no sense such as why two women in their 30s who are eating their way round Italy would be squeezing themselves into skinny jeans. Why not buy a pair that fit? These are fully grown women not teenagers. Also there is no inclination about Liz’s career as an author and how successful she was before she took off on her travels.
I mean she had written successful plays as well as the script for the film Coyote Ugly. Thirdly and more importantly I found it hard to relate to Liz, she just seemed so blah – I did not hate her but she just irritated me. For me to get into a film I really need to buy into the main character but I could not empahaise with Liz at all. This is mostly due to the fact there was no back story about the protagonist.
The whole point of a book, play or film is to see the main character go through a rites of passage and come out of the other end a different person. Liz did not seem to change at all. She just seem to go from man to man and not learning very much at all. The cinematograpjy was beautiful and Italy and Bali looked sumptous on the screen but then considering the budget it shouldn’t look anything else.
Eat Pray Love is yet another example of Hollywood’s brand extention where they tap into an established market and produce a film that is nothing more than glorified chick flick. If this is what you are after then you will enjoy it, if you are looking for something more substantial then I would really not bother. I spent the last 60 minutes praying it would end soon.
Eat Pray Love is out in all UK cinemas now.