This weekend my book club and I met for brunch then took a field trip to the cinema to see the new film Eat Pray Love. The movie, based on Elizabeth Gilbert’s bestselling memoir and starring Julia Roberts, had been highly promoted on all the female-skewing cable networks I watch, and while I’m not Ms. Roberts’ biggest fan, I did devour the book (pardon the pun), and was excited to see Liz’s drama unfold on the big screen.
Before I begin, I must disclose that my expectations were fairly low. It’s rare that a movie ever comes close to the book it’s based on, inspired by, or made from. Throw in the fact that I didn’t envision Julia Roberts playing the part and that I’d heard some lukewarm reviews, and pretty much anything average would have satisfied me.
What did the film do best?
Translate the beautiful scenery, mouth-watering local cuisines, and unique characters that Gilbert described so deliciously.
Where didn’t the film perform?
It failed to amply demonstrate Gilbert’s torment that she was fighting within herself, especially while in Italy and India. The movie Liz appeared to simply be on a sabbatical, dealing with some personal issues, but not reconstructing herself cell by cell with each bite of pasta, pound gained, meditation sweated through, and pound lost again.
As far as casting goes…
- Julia wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. Very few mouth open wide, head leaned back cackles, which I feared would ruin the film because that just wasn’t where Liz’s head was on this journey. While I would have preferred an actress more under-the-radar in the part, Julia played it well and didn’t detract from the film.
- Javier Bardem was perfect as Felipe, though their love affair didn’t roll out as slowly as in the book; understandable since we didn’t need to be in the theater for eight hours.
- Ketut and his wife, Wayan and Tutti, Richard from Texas, and all the Italian friends, were all well-cast with what I saw in my mind’s eye.
My final verdict?
There was just far too much detail in the book to cover in a two hour movie. But despite my low expectations, I thought the movie performed well. If you’ve read the book, I’d give it three out of four stars. It was fulfilling to see the places and people from the book come to life, even if not enough of Liz’s torment was evident. If you haven’t read the book, I am not sure the movie would inspire you that much, so I’d give it two and half (the half just because of how beautiful everything was) and recommend you pick up the paperback and truly experience Eat, Pray, Love.