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Eat Pray Love
A Woman's Journey To Find Herself
"Sometimes in order to find ourselves, we must take a long journey to find that inner peace. Along the way, you might meet many new people. And if you can take the criticism, you may even learn the truth about yourself", as quoted by Julia Roberts (Liz Gilbert) in this film. To be perfectly honest, I'm kind of conflicted about this film. On the one hand, I can see exactly where this film was trying to go, as the sentimental drive of the movie can easily tug at the emotional strings of the audience. Making the viewer can't help but root for the main character, even though the story is tragically cliche driven. However, if watching a lot of films have taught me one thing, it's that the emotional factor of any movie can sometimes distract us from how horribly bad a movie actually is. Heck, both "Sex and the City" movies do the exact same thing. Although to be fair, "Eat Pray Love" does manage to pull it off a lot better.
Based off the hit novel of the same name. "Eat Love Pray" follows the story of Liz Gilbert, who finds herself tragically unhappy in her marriage. Married to a man that quite frankly is unsure of what he wants out of life, as this causes her to become miserable in her marriage. Even to the point, where she's on her knees praying to god for a sign of any kind. Needless to say, she divorces her husband, Stephen (Billy Crudup), and falls into the arms of a younger man on the rebound. Sure, James Franco (David Piccolo) comes off as quite the charmer, as he seduces this cougar (who is still rather hot for her age too). However, even he's not enough for her to be happy. After all, his philosophy is that misery loves company, and we all know what that does to people. Thus, she dumps him and loses almost everything in her divorce to Stephen. Now with nothing much to live for, she uses the advance on her book to travel around the world, on the advice of a guru she met a while back.
During her travels, she visits many exotic locations such as Rome, India and Bali. With a new lesson for her to learn about life in each location, as she tries to find that inner balance her life has been lacking. As the title of the film suggests, she learns all these lessons accordingly to the movie's title. In Rome, she learns to enjoy the little things in life like the taste and pure joy of doing absolutely nothing, but to dine on fine Italian cuisine. In India, she learns the art of meditation and forgiveness. Learning that it's okay to feel sorrow and sadness, as it's never good to hide your true feelings. Quickly learning how to cope with that pain in spiritual harmony. Then in Bali, it all comes together, as she must use the teaching of the previous lessons to find spiritual balance, while meeting a rugged man by the name of Felipe (Javier Bardem). Where she must learn to open her heart and learn to love again. Will she accept love again knowing that she might get hurt? I can't really say without giving it away.
Although I will say this, "Eat Pray Love" definitely has a strong emotionally driven movie to try to tug at the heart of it's audience. Does it work? Well before I get into that, I will say this. First of all, I never read the book this movie was based on, so I can't really say if this film is faithful or not to the source. Secondly, if they wanted the main protagonist to appeal as a smart, sensible and independent woman, even when she's emotionally distraught throughout most of the movie, then they picked the right girl for the job. As Julia Roberts always manages to pull off any role she plays rather well.
However, it does seem like it's main point was to be a main inspiration to women everywhere with a strong independent female protagonist that doesn't need a man to be happy, but still yearns for love like everyone else. Yes, I get that. Only there's one small problem. The film fails tragically on execution, as most of the film comes off as one big giant whine fest. Where each potential man goes out of their way to make this insipid woman happy, but none of them are good enough for her. Unless some damn guru says they are. Gee, whatever happened to the old concept of "if you love someone, then you don't need anyone telling you that you're in love." I guess that concept gets lost, as the film seems too busy trying to create a strong emotional factor for women to buy into. Yes, this is a chick flick folks in every sense of the word. Don't get me wrong, there's been a lot of great chick flicks that were enjoyable in the past like "You've Got Mail" and "Julie & Julia", but this one just comes off ridiculously cliche and quite frankly...rather boring.
Now, I'm sure in the book, Liz probably thought that the idea of a woman traveling and taking in all these exotic sites would be exciting. However, as fun and exciting as seeing the world probably is, it's a helluva a lot more fun when.........your actually doing it yourself! Seriously, watching another person self indulge, in these type of rare experiences, is like watching a poker tournament. Sure, both are fun to do but when your forced to watch it, it just comes off rather long winded and boring.
Something that I'm sure "Eat Pray Love" wasn't exactly shooting for, as the drama of this film is made to where you'll feel so emotionally invested into Liz's plight that you'll forget that your watching a bad movie. Sadly, it doesn't work for people like me, that know better than to fall for it's nonsensical whims and whines. Sorry, it's not going to happen. However, as much as I've been bashing this movie, I do feel like Julia Roberts carried this film. Her charismatic presence and ability to make the role work, despite the mediocre dialogue and story line, makes the film worth watching.
Overall, I'd give this film a solid two out of four just based on Julia Robert's performance alone. Although I will say she does give a great performance in this movie, the rest of the film struggles to keep up.