Eat Pray Love

Year: 2010
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Director: Ryan Murphy
Writer: Ryan Murphy/Jennifer Salt/Elizabeth Gilbert
Cast: Julia Roberts, Richard Jenkins, Javier Bardem, James Franco, Billy Crudup, Viola Davis

This film was never going to have much truck with critics or most audiences – if you hated it, I completely understand why. The very premise of Elizabeth Gilbert's book was very fluffy and (for a lot of people) too self-indulgent.

I have a suspicion only people who have felt as trapped in their lives as Liz (Roberts) and have wanted to do (or done) something about it will understand and appreciate what it's trying to say. I liked that aspect to it for the same reason I liked American Beauty (however higher in quality that film was) – I instinctively respond to stories where people break out of stifling circumstances.

As Delia (Davis), a friend of Liz's says when she's about to embark on her voyage of self discovery, the reason she's been so against the trip the whole time Liz has been planning it is because Delia herself is only jealous she's not doing the exact same thing.

I like to think some people professed to dislike the movie for the same reason, but I guess it's more likely not as many people know that feeling of being so desperately stuck in a life they're sick of. So while the details were very girly and airy-fairy, the intent of the film was good and it kept me watching. The other thing many people wouldn't have liked was the gilded, picture-postcard images of Rome, India and Bali without any of the poverty, ruin or filth all three are replete with.

As Liz says, since she was a teenager she's been in one relationship after another, and when he latest love affair with actor David (Franco) falls apart she books her travels in hope and desperation to get away from her life – Rome to explore gastronomy, India to explore spirituality, and Bali to understand love.

Each trip is a separate episode in the film where she meets and befriends people and finds a little bit more about herself as she hopes. It's more about the journeys she goes through – there are no blindingly telegraphed epiphanies. It's not aimed at kids, teenagers or morons so even though her marriage to Stephen (Crudup) and relationship to David are doomed by virtue of the premise, the script treats both men and the relationships she shares with them seriously, a welcome change in itself.

While the book no doubt had much more of Gilbert's feelings and realisations and was far less about the outer world, the movie conveys the theme enough and if you fantasise about turning your life upside down to make a new start, it'll make you feel either morbidly depressed or quietly elated.

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