Director: Ryan Murphy
Writer: Ryan Murphy Jennifer Salt (screenplay), Elizabeth Gilbert (novel)
Released: August 2010
Starring: Julia Roberts, James Franco, Richard Jenkins, Viola Davis, Billy Crudup, Javier Bardem
I have avoided writing this review for years because the thought of it exhausts me, as did the film.
Eat Pray Love is about Elizabeth Gilbert (Julia Roberts) who has a large home, a husband and a great job, but she feels empty and without an ‘appetite’ for life. She soon instigates a divorce from her husband (Billy Crudup) whom she feels no connection to, before having a rebound relationship with David (James Franco).
Elizabeth: Hadn’t I wanted this? I had actively participated in every moment of the creation of this life. So why didn’t I see myself in any of it? The only thing more impossible than staying… was leaving. I didn’t want to hurt anybody, I wanted to slip quietly out the back door and not stop running until I reached Greenland.
A comment in the early part of the film that sticks in my head is by Elizabeth’s best friend Delia (Viola Davis). She says that Elizabeth used to look like Steven (her ex-husband), and now she looked like David (her rebound boyfriend).
As in, she was trying to find herself in others and consequently copying the way they dressed. I thought that was insightful and very relatable because when you don’t know who you are, you pretend to be someone else.
So Elizabeth decides to go travelling for a year to Italy to find her appetite again (eat), then India to experience peace (pray), and then Bali for balance, which turns into love.
Elizabeth: I used to have this appetite for my life, and now it’s gone! …I want to go somewhere where I can marvel at something.
Julia Roberts was the perfect choice because she plays a down-to-earth, complicated and romantic character. Her character is also quite inspirational as she does exactly what she tells everyone she’s going to do; travel!
She’s especially inspirational in comparison to her rebound actor boyfriend David who talks a lot about what he’s going to do but never actually does it.
Elizabeth: If you’re brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting, which can be anything from your house to bitter, old resentments, and set out on a truth-seeking journey… then the truth will not be withheld from you.
Eat Love Pray does have a particularly ‘privileged, rich, skinny, white woman is feeling sad’ kind of vibe. So I can imagine this detracts from the message significantly. Especially when the slim characters supposedly get ‘muffin tops’ from eating too much pizza and pasta. Like, girl, there’s nothing to you!
Nevertheless, there are a lot of philosophical lessons that are learnt by Elizabeth along the way, which I enjoy. It truly is a very personal discovery that she goes through, with her self-reflection and life lessons being relatable and aspirational.
In Italy, she learns to enjoy herself and not worry about her waistline. She learns to taste, enjoy, not feel guilty and to not deny herself of feeling good.
Luca Spaghetti: Americans! You work too hard. …you don’t know pleasure. You have to be told you’ve earned it. You see a commercial that says, “It’s Miller time”… and you say, “That’s right. Now I will go to buy a six-pack”. And drink the whole thing and wake up the next morning and you feel terrible.
But an Italian doesn’t need to be told. He walks by a sign that says, “You deserve a break today”… and he says, “Yeah, I know. That’s why I’m planning on taking a break at noon… to go over to your house and sleep with your wife”.
In India, she learns to block out the noise and to live in the moment. She learns to make peace with her past and let resentment go.
Richard from Texas: Big deal. So you fell in love with someone
Elizabeth: But I miss him.
Richard from Texas: So Miss him! Send him light and love when you think of him and then drop it!
Finally, in Bali, she discovers true love.
Filipe: You don’t need a man, Liz. You need a champion.
While in theory this should be a film I absolutely adore, unfortunately it is simply far too long (two and a half hours) with too many complicated internal conflicts to digest.
But I do appreciate that a lot of people can relate to running away from a ‘perfect’ life to search for themselves across the world.
Overall, it’s got strong messages but by the end I felt like I had travelled the world myself. I was exhausted.
Jodie’s rating: 5/10