This is a guest post by Clara Mathews.
Putting aside my personal feelings about Julia Roberts and my cynical view of what passes for chick flicks these days, I have finally seen Julia Robert’s big summer chick flicks, Eat, Pray Love. The movie is based on Elizabeth Gilbert’s best-selling novel of the same name. Eat, Pray Love was one of those books that everyone talked about. It was even featured on Oprah’s Book Club. If Oprah likes it, I should like it too. Right?
I still have not read the book, therefore I will try to review the movie with an open mind. Eat, Pray, Love is the diary of Liz Gilbert’s journey of self-discovery. The movie is narrated by Julia Roberts, which is supposed to make it seem more like a personal diary.
The story begins with Liz Gilbert on a bicycle in Bali, on her way to visit a local wise man. Ketut tells her she will have two marriages (one long, one short), lose all her money and will return to Bali one day and he will teach her all of his wisdom.
Back in New York, Liz is a successful author married to Stephen (played by Billy Crudup) a man who apparently changes careers like he changes shirts. They have what many people would consider the perfect life, a beautiful suburban home and they are planning a family. While Liz dreams of visiting exotic places, Stephen considers another career change.
Liz’s growing unhappiness prompts her to pray to God for guidance. I wasn’t exactly clear on the source of her discontent. Liz feels unfulfilled or unhappy or unsatisfied. In my eyes, Liz is simply a woman who doesn’t know what she wants. Perhaps the sudden realization that she was married to a handsome, yet very flaky husband. I have never been married, so forgive my ignorance on how you would not have known this guy was flaky when you married him. At the divorce proceedings, he represents himself – he has one semester of law. Clearly a man who doesn’t know what he wants to do with his life. But he loves Liz and fights the divorce.
Soon after the divorce, Liz becomes involved with David, a cute, young struggling actor, played by James Franco. She moves in with him and adopts his bohemian lifestyle, including meditation and attending his Guru’s ashram. Even though she visits the ashram regularly with David, Liz cannot even follow along with the chanting or get into the spirit of meditation. Then one night, Liz is lying on the floor crying. (As I said, a woman who doesn’t know what she wants).
The very talented, Viola Davis is wasted in her part as Liz Gilbert’s friend and agent, Delia Shiraz. Liz goes to Delia to tell her, she has decided to make a drastic change in her life by taking off for a year to travel. To marvel at life and to be herself, without defining her life by a man. This is where the Eating, Praying Loving begins.
Italy / Eat
Spending four months eating your way through the delicious cuisine of Italy is not bad way to begin any journey. Liz Gilbert rents a run down, old apartment in Rome and embarks upon her journey of self discovery by diving face first into pastas, pizza and gelato with wholehearted glee. Not worrying about carbs, calories or weight gain, Liz hires an Italian tutor, explores the city and makes new friends. In Italy, Liz learns the meaning of “Il Dolce Far Niente” – the art of doing nothing.
India / Pray
After four months of gorging her way through Italy, Liz goes to the ashram of David’s guru in India. The India segment of the movie is slow and fell apart for me. I didn’t understand her desire to pursue meditation, when she clearly didn’t ‘get it” in New York. She scrubs floors and tries to meditate. She meets a Texan played by Richard Jenkins, who is there to unburden himself of years of guilt and the loss of his family. After four months, it is in India that Liz finally let’s go of the guilt she feels about her divorce and bad relationships.
Bali / Love
As Ketut predicted, Liz returns to Bali to learn at the foot of the wise man. She rents an incredible place that looks like paradise. She spends her mornings with Ketut, listening to his wisdom and she finally finds peace in meditation. Who wouldn’t find peace, sitting quietly in one of the most beautiful places on earth? While riding her bike, Liz is run off the road by a car. The car’s driver is Felipe, a Brazilian divorce played by Javier Bardem. Even though both of of them bear the scars of heartbreak and bitter divorces, they eventually fall in love.
Watching Eat, Pray Love left me thinking. Why do people need to travel to far flung places to find themselves? Why would a person who lives in New York City, a place with some of the best restaurants in the world need to travel to find great food? Why, when you are trying to separate yourself from the influence of the men in your life would you travel to India to practice your boyfriend’s religion and return to Bali on the prediction of a toothless old man. If you can afford to take off for a year and travel the world, you don’t have as many problems as you think you do!
Perhaps these are questions that were answered in the book. If you read the book, please leave a comment and enlighten me.
Clara Mathews lives in Dallas, TX with her sock-chasing terrier, where she writes about her love of movies at JustChickFlicks.com and her adventures as a freelance writer at ClarabelaMedia.com. Clara is also a regular contributor to CorporateConciergeInc.com.