Eat Pray Love | Ryan Murphy, 2010
I believe that everyone should take at least one year to see the world by themselves and figure out what they truly want to do with their lives. Sure, it’s not for everyone, but still. It definitely is one of my ambition in life to travel the world, at least Europe and Australia, so I thought that based on the premise, I was going to enjoy Eat Pray Love. And I guess I could say that I enjoyed from the very basic premise, but just about everything else is, well, not so good.
Eat Pray Love, based on the novel by Elizabeth Gilbert, follows her, as played by Julia Roberts. We first see her on a trip in Bali where she meets a wise medicine man who tells her that she will lose everything, but will get it back after traveling the world. And wouln’t you know it? He was right! Six months after her visit, she gets divorced from her husband of about 15 years (Billy Crudup), dates a young actor (James Franco) but it doesn’t work, and so she decided to go to Italy to eat a lot, India to find God, and back to Bali to fulfill the prophesy that the old man gave her.
There are a couple of things that I liked that kept the movie from being a total disaster. First, the basics of the story. A woman who has not fulfilled her dreams goes out to do so, and while there, she changes her life, and it is actually believable because not everything happens smoothly. The Italy segment was a ton of fun, and reinforced by thought that I have to go to Italy as soon as possible. Also, the performances are quite decent. Julia Roberts is just Julia Roberts, but that’s ok. Javier Bardem is charming, if over-the-top. Well, that can be said for any of her lovers in this, really. Viola Davis pretty much steals the few scenes she is in even thought the role is of very little importance. But the best of the bunch is the ever-reliable Richard Jenkins. He is great at being sort of annoying at first, but by the time his segment is over, he is actually, the only character with a heat in it. And in that scene, I almost shed some tears.
And that brings me to the bad. First, most of the characters are one-dimensional and add no emotion to the story. For example, the Liz Gilbert character, while I sympathize with her desire to see the world, why does she have to be so horrible to everyone? Because of this, I felt no affection between her and Franco and Bardem. So, who do we blame this on? Part of the blame of course goes to the script which didn’t flesh out the characters enough, but the biggest culprit has to be the director, Ryan Murphy. His direction is just about every part is awkward and he didn’t seem to find the proper style balance. Did he want this to be a character piece or a stylish travelogue? He didn’t know what he wanted, and it shows.
In the end, Eat Pray Love is not good, it’s not bad, but it’s just there. You could do worse than watching it, but there are so many better movies to spend your time with.