Eat Pray Love Early Review: A Shallow Guilty Pleasure

by Anne Thompson
August 11, 2010 7:23 AM
9 Comments
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Thompson on Hollywood
Ryan Murphy's film adaptation of Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert’s bestseller about the divorced New Yorker's lone odyssey to Italy, India and Bali in search of meaning in her life, delivers an escapist Julia Roberts romance and exotic travelogue. But its pleasures are guilty and skin-deep.

Moviegoers who like Roberts--who ably carries this movie like the movie star she is--will flock to this glossy melodrama about an unhappy woman who wants to define herself by more than her profession--writer--or her relationship with a man.

The men in Gilbert's life are well-played by Billy Crudup as the handsome husband she abruptly divorces, James Franco as the handsome actor she jumps into bed with soon thereafter, and Javier Bardem as the handsome Brazilian fellow divorcee she finds in Bali. Watching the incandescent Roberts in full flirty sexy mode is one of the film's delights, along with a lively soundtrack ranging from Eddie Vedder to pounding disco. Older man Richard Jenkins, while not a love interest, serves as Gilbert's demanding friend and mentor during her soul-racking sojourn at an ashram in India.

Thompson on Hollywood
Arguably, Roberts co-stars with cinematographer Robert Richardson, who brings out the best of her jaunts through Rome and Naples, where the food is sensually tantalizing, to her more spiritual quests in New Delhi and the stunning seaside landscapes of Bali. Roberts looks gorgeous throughout this movie, which while never dull, offers fairly superficial answers to the question of what women want. Daily meditation and a balanced life are the main additions to Gilbert's plate.

In fact, in this Hollywood fantasy, a woman writes whatever she likes for plenty of money, looks fit, fashionable and fabulous no matter how much she eats and drinks, and can have any hunky man she desires. Maybe Murphy knows exactly what he is doing. During a summer starved of flicks for women, even if critics' knives are sharp, Eat Pray Love will be a huge hit.

Here's Variety and Rotten Tomatoes.

And the trailer:

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9 Comments

  • WhiteFluffyIcing | August 14, 2010 3:32 AMReply

    The movie did not even come CLOSE to doing the book justice. (Although Javier Bardem was delicious.) Here’s why: http://whitefluffyicing.com/2010/08/eat-pray-love-movie/

  • WhiteFluffyIcing | August 14, 2010 3:31 AMReply

    The movie did not even come CLOSE to doing the book justice. (Although Javier Bardem was delicious.) Here’s why: http://whitefluffyicing.com/2010/08/eat-pray-love-movie/

  • Mark Ramsey | August 12, 2010 8:14 AMReply

    What if I just eat instead?

  • Sergio | August 12, 2010 8:06 AMReply

    @ Brian

    I've seen The Expendables already and I urge every man to show the world we're not lost wimps, display their masculine pride and march the theater tomorrow to show the world they are still some REAL men left in the world

  • Brian | August 12, 2010 2:55 AMReply

    Calling all real men! What are you doing sitting here reading this? Why aren't you all out rushing out to line up for THE EXPENDABLES, where you belong?! C'mon, let's get moving! If we don't beat EAT PRAY LOVE at the b.o. this weekend, we'll be stuck with years of chick flicks about pampered, self-centered, overprivileged dames, played by over-the-hill actresses, running around trying to "find themselves." The heroes of EXPENDABLES have already found themselves and they're out working for their money, not like this Elizabeth Gilbert chick. Let's go! Ten-HUTT!!! Right step! Forward Haaaaaarch!

  • meep | August 12, 2010 2:13 AMReply

    Gross.

  • Antonio | August 11, 2010 9:52 AMReply

    Believe it or not, I found myself crying at moments. There's some soulful moments in the film that transcend the film's female demo.

  • Anne Thompson | August 11, 2010 9:37 AMReply

    I agree that Cairo Time is excellent and well worth seeing. And it also combines a romantic encounter with a travelogue, in this case of Cairo.

  • Doug | August 11, 2010 9:16 AMReply

    I'm curious about Anne Thompson's review - yes, Eat Pray Love looks terrible actually - and it is understandable that this summer, it seems audiences have been starved of good movies - there is one movie I saw in New York called Cairo Time, starring the wickedly talented Patricia Clarkson. Why not talk about Cairo Time - a flick people should run and see. If you're going to mention an audience starved for female films - there is one actually doing well. So why Anne Thompson, do you not mention Cairo Time which subsequently is also directed by a woman and getting excellent reviews?

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