Star cast: Julia Roberts, Javier Bardem, Billy Crudup, Viola Davis, James Franco
Plot: Julia Roberts is trying to come to terms with her broken marriage so that she can carry on with her life. She decides to go on a whirlwind tour to re-discover herself and ends up visiting places. She eats and enjoys life in Italy, finds her spirituality in India, and finds love in Bali.
What’s good: The mushy ‘falling in love’ sequences, picturesque Bali and a few witty dialogues.
What’s bad: You never really empathize with Julia Roberts; her constant whining.
Verdict: Eat Pray Love is for those who love self-help books or are ardent fans of Julia Roberts.
Loo break: Whenever! Nothing ever keeps you glued to the film.
Columbia Pictures and Plan B Entertainment’s Eat Pray Love is about a middle-aged writer, Liz Gilbert (Julia Roberts), who lives in New York and is stuck in an unhappy marriage with a good-for-nothing drifter, Stephen (Billy Crudup). While struggling for a divorce, Liz falls in love at first sight with a young and handsome theatre artist, David Picollo (James Franco). In a moment of epiphany, Liz decides to leave her husband for good, give up her comfortable life in New York and set out on a soul-searching trip across Italy, India and Indonesia. Thus, she gorges on food in Italy, searches her soul for spirituality in India, and mends her broken heart with a handsome foreigner, Felipe (Javier Bardem) in Bali, Indonesia.
The film is based on the best-selling novel of Elizabeth Gilbert. Director Ryan Murphy (of the Glee television series fame) has picked the novel favoured by women dealing with mid-life crisis. He goes ahead to tell them how they don’t need men in their lives, to be happy; how they should eat anything they want without worrying about the dreaded ‘muffin-top’; that they can buy sexy clothes for themselves and so on and so forth. Gilbert handles the ‘food’ part well, making everything look delectable. Heck, even the bread on their table looks mouthwatering! The island of Bali is a visual treat with the lush forests, lively beaches and the cute Felipe.
The problem with the script (by Ryan Murphy and Jennifer Salt) is that you never feel for the protagonist. When you see her in her comfy little house in New York, you wonder why Liz is crouched in the bathroom, crying her heart out. Whereas in the later part of the film, she ends up doing exactly what she was running away from. She whines about wanting to run away from her husband, family and friends to find solitariness in Italy. But once there, she’s always surrounded by people: whether shopping, eating or watching a game. In Liz’s own words, “Since I was 15, I’ve either been with a guy or breaking up with a guy.” Yet, it’s only when she finds romance again that the movie glibly assures you that her life is finally ‘balanced’.
Julia Roberts is an extremely competent actress but there’s only so much you can handle of her close-ups with her magnified botoxed lips and her blonde highlights. Javier Bardem is good too; he looks drunk in his screen-entry but it’s only better from there on. Billy Crudup, as Julia’s husband, plays his part well. The show stealers are Hadi Subiyanto, as the toothless healer in Bali, and James Taylor, as her gruff friend in India.
The music by Dario Marianelli is very good: it is romantic, teasing and soulful, when needed. Robert Richardson’s cinematography is good but Bradley Buecker’s editing could have been better.
All said, Eat Pray Love is for those who stack self-help books on their bookshelves and for die-hard chick-flick fans. The rest of the crowd should give it a pass.