Movie Review Rewind: Eat Pray Love (2010)
Based on Elizabeth Gilbert’s bestseller, Eat Pray Love is about self-discovery and loving oneself. In the movie, Liz Gilbert is played by Julia Roberts who still has a presence onscreen and has not lost her smile. Gilbert is in search of balance in her life and to find spiritual enlightenment, but the movie itself never dives deep enough in any part of it. She prays, meditates, eats, cries and repeat.
Gilbert is a writer in New York who wants to go find herself. Get her appetite for life back. She leaves her husband (Billy Crudup) and goes on a year-long journey to Italy, India, and Bali. Now, I have not read the book, but the movie feels like a Sex and the City story with just one woman. A privileged woman worrying about love while in these beautiful locations and always finding something to complain about. Now how close is this to the actual book? I have no idea, but that is how the movie is.
Perhaps I was a bit harsh comparing this movie to Sex and the City because Eat Pray Love is a good movie. It is actually better than I thought it would be. Roberts has not been in a lead role in a long time. She has had supporting roles lately like in Charlie Wilson’s War and Valentine’s Day. She did share the screen with Clive Owen last year in Duplicity, but Roberts is in every scene of this movie for over two hours. That is a lot of Roberts. Almost too much to handle, but she allows the focus to be taken off of her when it comes to the men in Gilbert’s life.
James Franco becomes a younger lover for Gilbert and they take one day at a time and what seems like a non-serious relationship at first becomes more serious than either one thought. Richard Jenkins takes on a different role, a role that gives advice and who wakes Liz up and helps her learn how to forgive. Jenkins’ character shows his soul as Liz is trying to fix hers. We find out about his past and it is one of the few emotional scenes in the whole movie.
Then there is Javier Bardem. How can you not like Bardem? He is a smooth, charming guy who can sweep any woman off her feet and that goes for Roberts. No woman can escape him. Maybe not a man, either. All three of these characters have substance and something to offer and they affect Gilbert in a big way. And the men who play them have a lot to offer as well.
Director Ryan Murphy (creator of Glee) shows the beauty of Roberts but also captures the beauty of locations. Italy, India and Bali are breathtaking sights to see on the screen. The atmosphere, the environment, and the culture is all there for you to soak up and enjoy. Or watch Gilbert enjoy them for you. But these locations also serve as a distraction from a story that could have gone deeper and made the journey more meaningful.
In Eat Pray Love, there are breakthroughs, not just with Gilbert, but with other characters as well. But the movie never hits that emotional stride that it is aiming for. It just does not work. However, with Roberts (who does try very hard to make you feel connected to her character) bringing you along for the journey and the terrific supporting performances and locations, Eat Pray Love will entertain and satisfy most viewers. For those who have read the book, you will probably get more out of reading it than watching it.
“Nature Boy” Brandon Vick is the resident film critic of the SoBros Network, and star of Brandon’s Box Office In Your Mouth. Follow him on Twitter@SirBrandonV and be sure to search #VicksFlicks for all of his latest movie reviews.