I think I deserve something beautiful.
— Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love)
I really wasn’t going to review the awful film Eat, Pray, Love (dir. Ryan Murphy). I didn’t want to re-visit a big waste of time. Maybe I can spare one person a bad experience though. I know that I’m going against the grain – people love Julia Roberts, love the book it’s based on – so I apologize in advance, I thought the film sucked.
While trying to get pregnant, a happily married woman realizes her life needs to go in a different direction, and after a painful divorce, she takes off on a round-the-world journey. Based on the memoir by Elizabeth Gilbert.(IMDB http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0879870/) or blah, blah, blah.
My friend asked if this film is New Age or Hindu. I said neither. Casting a big Hollywood star like Roberts reeks of the materialism rejected by each area. It’s very good to bring Hindu ideals to the masses but I see Mary-Louise Parker in the role actually. A HUGE Hollywood movie star is like ‘buy me ’or buy Hinduism. The slickness…
He says, “The book is a good introduction to Hinduism because it gives a feel for what day-to-day life might be like for a (Western) Hindu, a religion I find quite hard to fathom given it’s huge age, diversity and – to be honest – weirdness.” The film wasn’t even weird just boring.
A few people I know could not stand the film and were happy that my perspective seemed to validate their own. I have never encountered such a hush-up tone to a film. That itself makes me want to scream - loud.
A psychologist was interviewed about the film on the radio. She said that it’s hard to translate introspection and navel-gazing to the big screen. I disagree except for this film. I mean look at My Own Private Idaho (Van Sant). She also said that Gilbert (main character) always had a man in her life and that continues via teachers etc. Sure, her guru is female but she is absent – she is an absent-presence. The same song, only in Sanskrit.
The film yanked at my travel-bug. However, I wanted to jump off this bus. I also want to eat exquisite food. However, the important representation of food could have been more lush. I am reminded of the wonderful aesthetic in Marie Antoinette helmed by Sofia Coppola. Let them eat cake, indeed.
I was going to leave the theatre mid-way through the film. I absolutely did not care about Julia Roberts’ character.The character in the film was not written well at all. She was unsympathetic and flat. Javier Bardem was the only eye-candy for me that made this film bearable.
One review says, “So let’s break this down, shall we? Love stories are much more tangible when they have substance: fewer reaction shots, more substance. There was enough to work with here to make this a solid film, but ultimately Eat Pray Love falls victim to its own storyline, and ends up another silly love story rather than a credible piece of filmmaking.” (Smells Like Screen Spirit) Yup.
This film was poorly made: bad film-script, direction, editing, cinematography. Eat, Pray, Love was hollow - the worst this year. Blech.
Romy Shiller is a pop culture critic and holds a PhD in Drama from the University of Toronto. Her academic areas of concentration include film, gender performance, camp and critical thought. She lives in Montreal where she continues her writing. All books are available online.