Film Reviews


By • Aug 15th, 2010 •

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Too preachy, indulgent, and everybody cries. Even the extras.

Every woman I know, and millions of others, have read and loved Elizabeth Gilbert’s 2006 memoir Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia. The title tells it all. Now that I’ve seen the over 2 hour version, I am glad I did not read the book.

Liz Gilbert (Julie Roberts) had everything, but she’s unfulfilled. She feels empty. She cries. She has a husband, Stephen (Billy Crudup) who, okay, he’s a loser without ambitions, but he adores her. Liz is a successful, published writer with an editor, Delia (Viola Davis) who adores her. But, she wants more. I didn’t believe her “inner struggle” for one minute. It did not ring true.

So, Liz dumps the husband, and immediately takes up with a young actor, David (James Franco), who adores her. But, he’s an off-off Broadway actor with a studio walkup in the East East Village.

Liz needs a few good hardships but instead decides to give her husband everything in a divorce except, according to the movie, enough money to live like a wealthy socialite for a year in Italy, India and Indonesia.

I wept for Liz.

This is an indulgent journey for self-discovery and we are supposed to care.

The first part of the journey is in Italy where Liz finds friends immediately who adore her and a sexy Italian who she hires to teach her the language. He’s got a girlfriend – the love part comes later. Liz eats and gains weight! WOW! Liz is showing all of us it is okay to enjoy life and gain 7 pounds in pursuit of life!

The last time I ate pizza was in Rome in 1994. It was fantastic. (Should I write a book about it?) You pay by the weight. Yes, Italians eat well, but they also walk everywhere. Americans have chosen – we do not walk except up and down aisles.

David is a devotee of an Indian guru so after 4 months in Rome, Liz takes off for an ashram somewhere in India. The film does not name the guru or city. But guess what? The guru is in New York! You’d think Liz would have checked out the guru’s travel schedule or at least told David when he called and asked her how ashram life was. Oh, never mind!

I spent a year in an ashram studying kriya yoga in Bihar, India. I lived in a dormitory. The entire ashram went silent for one month. In Liz’s ashram you buy a name-plate that says “I am being silent”. Of course I was looking forward to this part of the movie. Instead, it falls dead flat. Soul-searching Liz is befriended by Richard from Texas (Richard Jenkins) a real buffoon with platitudes. I would have sat Richard from Texas down and told him to slap on that name-plate – for good.

Empowering women – that is what this is really about – Richard from Texas calls Liz “Groceries” because she likes to eat.

Well, it’s time for Liz to take off for Bali and she goes to see her toothless guru, Nyomo (I. Gusti Ayu Puspawati), who started her on this journey a year ago with psychic predictions about her future. He predicted she would return and learn from him. In a glorious jungle villa, Liz settles in. Soon she meets Felipe (Javier Bardem) a successful import-exporter Brazilian suffering from an ugly divorce. He is wounded and I did not care.

Liz doesn’t want to give up her self-discovery to find “balance” to merge with Felipe, but he adores her. They have a fight but Liz’s guru Nyomo tells her it is okay to love. And she finds her “word”.

I couldn’t believe how narcissist Liz was, yet everyone adored her.

Did author Gilbert confide how much her journey to balance cost? Gilbert paid for the trip with an advance she received on a book she planned to write. So it was a journey with a manuscript due-date.

The screenplay is by director Ryan Murphy and Jennifer Salt. They left nothing out of the book, hence the long running time. I was bored after Italy. There were so many trite conversations about spirituality and balance and finding oneself, I cried too – of boredom. lists Ryan Murphy of directing 81 episodes of the sexually-charged Nip/Tuck. There’s no sexual tension between Liz and her men. Bardem – who should have been exuding his raw sexual energy – plays Liz’s manservant.

Roberts, looking lovely and real (I loved those mosquito bites on her arms in India), cries a lot. Everybody cried. This was a journey laden with tears. I saw extras crying.

Movie stars of Roberts’ status require a strong equal-status director to actually direct them with a strong hand and stronger vision. Murphy, who has quickly risen to fame with his hugely successful TV series “Glee” is not up to the task. He must have given Roberts a wide perch for interpreting her presentation of Liz and the entire production.

It is said they will work together on another project, a comedy to be released in 2012. Let’s hope Roberts meets up with Christian Troy.

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One Response »

  1. I’ve already read the book about this film by Elizabeth Gilbert. It is very well written. A really brilliant author. I’m gonna watch this film.

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