Julia Roberts stars in this adaptation
of Liz Gilbert’s best-selling travelogue. Roberts, as Gilbert, comes to
realise her New York travel-writer life, which involves good friends and
a caring, but bumbling and ultimately unequal husband, is not enough –
she desires to break out. The divorce is prickly but necessary. There is
a brief dalliance with a good-looking stage actor (James Franco) but
this is merely physically fulfilling. Liz has other needs.
She packs her bags and clearly-abundant
financial reserves and sets out into the wide world to ‘find herself’.
First stop: Rome. Hustle, bustle; caffè, cliché. Liz rents a spinster’s
semi-defunct but gawjuss room and sets about embracing the
locale. She bumps into a Scandinavian ex-pat pretty much doing the same
thing. A hunky Italian teacher is soon sourced and they get about the
narrow, crazy streets enjoying the very best of eating and drinking.
Then it’s onto an ashram in incredible
India. The contrast with Italy could not be greater. There is a rigid
schedule of meditation and menial labour. It is ironically a Texan
(Richard Jenkins) who becomes her soul’s pillar through her dhal-rich
Final stop: Bali. Well known to
Australians as a famous, infamous and sometimes ominous destination, the
island’s colourful charm is hard to resist. It is here that Liz embraces
the balancing wisdom of shaman Ketut (Hade Subiyanto) while falling into
the rugged arms of Felipe (Javier Bardem).
The adaptation was co-written by
Jennifer Salt and Ryan Murphy (of Glee fame) and Murphy also
directs. In terms of cinematic travel, Eat Pray Love is quite
impressive. There are lush, capacious landscapes and pseudo-pornographic
shots of coiffed food. There is also a wondrous, Fellini-esque spaghetti
montage, replete with Mozart’s Queen of Nights aria.
However, as a male viewer, I (and I
imagine some women) found it hard to relate to Liz or care about her
misadventures. Superficiality seems to haunt the film, and at a running
time of 140 minutes, you really start to feel it. It should have been
more snappy and despite all the meditation, it is hardly a meditative
I would recommend it for fans of travel,
food or Roberts but not the general viewer. Eat Pray Love sags,
and despite its vocal and vehement protestations to the contrary, does
not whole-heartedly embrace la dolce vita.