Eat, Whine and More Whining
By Don Jaucian
Eat Pray Love (2010)
D: Ryan Murphy
C: Julia Roberts, Javier Bardem, Billy Crudup, James Franco, Viola Davis
Ryan Murphy’s adaptation of Elizabeth Gilbert’s bestselling book Eat, Pray, Love is probably the longest film I’ve ever seen so far. It’s 133-minute running time felt more like 11 hours. If it’s meant to reflect the meditation that Gilbert (Roberts) enforces on her slow unraveling, it miserably underscores every bit of her flaws and shortcomings. That would have been okay if she somehow redeemed herself by the end of the movie but after you tire of watching Gilbert fling every cliche in each of the country she visited, the only thing you want is to walk out of the theater and eat Italian cuisine.
Fresh from a divorce and a botched affair with a twentysomething hottie (James Franco), Gilbert decides to leave her unhappy Manhattan existence for Italy, India and Bali where she spent almost four months in each place. The first half of the movie (the one set in Italy) is bearable at times. Here we see Roberts at her cheekiest: glum but nevertheless fluffy-fied by Italian food and the trill of the language she easily mastered in the span of her visit by, perhaps ordering Italian food every chance she gets.
By the time she hits India and Bali (where the only interesting scene in the movie took place), the film moves at a dragging pace, occasionally brightened by the picturesque shots of the landscapes that Murphy chooses to fill the movie with, somehow making it appear like a travel feature more than a film that should be about empowerment and self-discovery: two things that Gilbert didn’t seem to have unearthed by the end of the film.
In her journey to spirituality, we are shown that Gilbert didn’t really have much to work on. We mostly see her pensive, regretting her decisions in life but she rarely does anything to deal with them. The film’s only rousing voice is Richard (played by the always reliable Richard Jenkins); a figure that always loomed in Gilbert’s steps while she spent her time in India, whining about all the things that is wrong with her life and thinking about how to decorate her meditation room instead of actually meditating. Richard is the only likable character in this film, the only one who actually makes sense.
Eat, Pray, Love can be very repulsive at times. In its entirety, it’s porn for the idealistic, in-pursuit-of-the-spiritual type of woman who is responsible for making the book stay in the New York Times bestseller list for 150 weeks. The film may have reminded me of the pains of a deceiving chick flick (helmed by Glee’s producer) but travel and food will always be the comfort zones that we have all been returning to in one form or another.
Err…Now I’m actually dreading to watch the movie.