“Eat, Pray, Love” on film
Though the backlash against the book eventually got to me, and now I realize that though I adored the book, it’s really the story of an affluent woman “losing it all” yet still having enough money for around the world airfare, which seems a little silly, but whatever.
Upon my first reading of the book, I adored it.
The end. Judge me if you will.
However, the release of the film version of the book was something I didn’t adore for several reasons. First, how do you translate a book that’s based largely on the writer’s inner thoughts into a movie that’s actually compelling to watch? Second, Julia Roberts was to play Liz. Nothing against her personally, but by this point she’s probably too big of a star to play an easily relatable person anymore. Third, the decision to mass-market the film by producing a World Market clothing, wine, and tea line made me want to roll my eyes. (Because obviously, if you dress in vaguely Indian-inspired garb, your life will change – just like in the book! Who needs to travel! Just buy things!)
Months after the movie’s release, my friend Amanda and I actually sat down and watched the movie. (It now streams on Netflix, if you’re interested.) And we were disappointed. Which is pretty much how everyone who saw the movie felt, apparently. My friend Bob only made it ten minutes in before he gave up, and his adorable Dad described the movie as “Julia Roberts makes grown men cry.”
Though the movie is stunning, and obviously filmed largely on location, there’s really nothing to latch on to in the film. Thereby, it becomes difficult to care about the two-plus-hours of what’s happening on screen. The central story – an affluent writer wakes up one day and realizes she doesn’t want to be married, so she gets a divorce, then gets a younger man boyfriend, then decides she needs to spend a year in Italy, India, and Indonesia in order to discover who she really is – doesn’t translate well to the screen, as there’s really no conflict other than Liz’s search for something.
Julia Roberts is surprisingly bland in the movie, unless she’s having a meltdown/crisis (which happens quite a few times), and the actors around her are largely forgettable, too. The usually serviceable Billy Crudup is just plain grating as her ex-husband, and James Franco shows up, acts whiny, and looks like he needs a shower. (Having read the book, I don’t remember either of their two characters being around nearly as much as they are in the film, which makes me wonder why they were turned into roles considered worthy of big name actors in the first place.) Even Viola Davis is wasted in a hazy role as Liz’s friend/publisher/agent/something.
If there’s a saving grace of the movie, it’s Javier Bardiem as Liz’s love interest once she reaches Bali. Bardiem is charming, sexy, lovable, and it’s easy to understand what draws Liz to him. (Why he’s drawn to her, I still have no idea.) Unfortunately, Bardiem doesn’t come into the film until Bali, which is the last of the three countries Liz visits during her year of discovery, so it’s too little too late.
The movie just isn’t good.
The book was a smash hit, and Hollywood seems to be all about trying to make massively successful movies that will draw female movie-goers to spend their bucks, so I get why it was made into a movie. It seems like no one bothered to sit down and take a good, hard look at the script before shooting began to try and decide what the film is about, and as such the film meanders and wanders around the world with no purpose.
If you’re curious to see it, it streams on Netflix, which is probably the closest to free it’ll come. Don’t waste your money on it otherwise.