REVIEW: 'Eat Pray Love'

REVIEW: 'Eat Pray Love'

REVIEW: 'Eat Pray Love', Flicks.co.nz
Julia Roberts as Elizabeth Gilbert thinking about eating, praying and loving...

2 stars

Drama adapted from the best-selling memoir by Elizabeth Gilbert, stars Julia Roberts as a newly-divorced woman embarking on a journey of self-discovery. Also stars James Franco and Javier Bardem. Click here for session info.

Of all books to turn into a movie, a spiritual memoir is surely the most problematic. Translating heartbreak is one thing but personal epiphanies, encounters with God and witty inner monologues don't have a natural home on the big screen. Because of that, Eat Pray Love, the cinematic version, feels too much like a film and less like Elizabeth Gilbert's real-life story. It's as though the "phenomenon" of Eat Pray Love got away on itself and, rather than casting a self-deprecating, unknown actress who could embody 30-something middle-class angst, they chose the biggest, richest movie star of the lot. And let's be honest: Julia Roberts has a face that could distract you from even the most thrilling plot.

The plot here doesn't quite hang together within its two-hour-plus limits either. One minute Liz has a husband, the next, a boyfriend, then suddenly she's complaining about putting on weight in Italy. Yeah, right.

The best part of the film is in India where we're introduced to Richard from Texas (Richard Jenkins), a character who yes, wants to save her but without fawning like the next joker, played by Javier Bardem. It's telling that Richard's back-story provides the film's most affecting scene, sweeping Liz's problems into woe-is-me oblivion.

As a travelogue, the film almost delivers. Glee director Ryan Murphy brings a much-needed dose of flamboyant colour and movement to the cinematography, (aside from a rather dull Italy – it can't have been easy shooting in Rome so perhaps that explains it). And Bali must be pleased. Its tourist numbers are sure to spike once this comes out.

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