Films | Movie Reviews | Eat Pray Love – Review

Eat Pray Love – Review

Posted by Editor on October 10, 2010 | No Comments

FILM – Eat Pray Love
PRODUCER – Plan B Pictures
DIRECTOR – Ryan Murphy
SCREENPLAY – Ryan Murphy, Jennifer Salt (Based on the book by Elizabeth Gilbert)
CAST – Julia Roberts, I. Gusti Ayu Puspawati, Billy Crudup, Richard Jenkins, James Franco
MUSIC – Dario Marianelli

Eat pray love is a curious title. It brings to mind an impulsive retort, an answer to which is the title itself. It is not a film for sceptics, but neither does it wish to convert. It is a journey of self-realisation which is in part psychological and in part spiritual.

‘In part’ maybe is the right way to qualify it as not only is this journey broken down in parts so is the vision and heart behind it appear to be. Somewhat refracted and there only in part…

There is a large element of soul-stirring relatability that is missing in this journey of a woman set to mend her heart and find out her own relationship with herself. After suffering a failed marriage, she sets out to find healing and light in the world in a long tour. She starts with Italy where she relishes the nourishment in food, then goes to India to gain spiritual insight in devotion and lastly goes to Bali (actually goes ‘back’ to Bali as her journey in essence starts here.) where she finds the balance of love to sustain her overall.

Eat Pray Love has been adapted from the book of same name by Elizabeth Gilbert whose travels it portrays. While the book received favorable reviews for its ‘mix of intelligence and colloquial exuberance’ unfortunately the film fails to exhibit a similar fervor. The journey emotional and physical is palpable, but lacks the resonance that accompanies such existential quests.

Julia Roberts’ Liz is heartfelt, but not lost enough for the enlightenment or even the struggles within her soul to be extreme. Her pain is visible but somehow never felt. It is this lack of identification with her situation, with her mental landscape and her inner turmoil that leaves the viewer experience a tad bit on the surface.

The journey she makes through romantic Italy, mystical India and exotic Bali are an adventure, open-ended and full of experiences and moments that touch, potent enough to change lives. It does on-screen but leaving behind a suspicious feeling that it was the screenplay who did it not the journey.

To be fair to the film, nowhere does it seem forced. Neither does it ever wallow. A death-trap for a female-oriented film generally inescapable. Eat pray love, even though a woman’s journey is a universal journey of all of us, gender-less, geography-less, age-less. It deals with the most basic to profound questions of human existence through the central character of a woman dealing with her heart-ache and trying to find her own meaning. In doing this it encompasses diverse realities, divesting it of man-made paranthesis, revealing that underneath all, our questions are the same. To that extent, the answers too. And so are the methods. The mean may change from time to time depending on the stage of our journey we are in but the end remains the same.

Julia Roberts has that inherent vulnerability yet that strength of character that makes her tailor-made for such roles. She continues to move through her tears, frowns and that 1000 watt smile that still has a child-like innocence. But somewhere, a catch and miss game keeps going on in trying to find the depth of the character or investing it with one. Nevertheless she keeps the experience engaging even though one may not be, after a point, very interested or keen on learning her outcome, as evident it is from the way the film pans out. Her compatriots on her journey, Richard Jenkins, James Franco and Billy Crudup add a limited dimension but a dimension nevertheless.

Elizabeth’s journey is not complex, neither is the film. But it is a little less emotionally involving than its protagonist’s journey, leaving behind a window but half open, to a world of answers that may benefit all of us, us being in the same grind that Elizabeth is in.

FATEMA H.KAGALWALA

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