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August 17, 2010 > Movie Review: Eat Pray Love

Movie Review: Eat Pray Love

By Jennifer Gau

This is a true story about a woman's mid-life crisis. It is the point in a woman's life when she realizes how unhappy she is and wants to do something about it. She no longer feels alive, has lost her appetite for food and simple pleasures. After a divorce, Liz Gilbert (Julia Roberts) decides to take a year sabbatical to see Italy, India, and Indonesia. It is a quest to find her true self by discovering pleasure in Italy, peace in India, and balance in Indonesia. Based on Elizabeth M. Gilbert's book published in 2006, director Ryan Murphy takes us through the fine details of her transformation as she discovers what defines her and gives her fulfillment.

Gilbert is a great writer with a knack for explaining her emotions to help her audience understand where she comes from and her thought process. For her, this journey across the world is not about discovering new landscapes or meeting new interesting people. It is about discovering her self in the landscapes and interactions. It takes a lot of courage to open up to the unknown. Everyone understands life is hard, and it helps to have a support group. "Eat, Pray, Love" is definitely a nice read, but the movie adaptation does not measure up.

There are very faint hints of humor in the film. It contrasts instead of meshes with the vibrant scenery and culture each country offers. Another downfall is excess dialogue. The voiceover narration fills in the blanks that scenes cannot portray in the limited time, but it creates a separation instead of a connection with the audience. Some meal scenes could have been eliminated; people are just sitting around having banal conversations.

Positive aspects of the film are the costumes, settings, music, and famous faces. The music enhances differences between each country. Italy has food and sexuality seeping throughout the scenes. India is very hectic in the city, yet peaceful in the Ashram. Indonesia is tropical and exotic. Some scenes were filmed in the exact location in which the author experienced her journey.

A few scenes were well directed, capturing entrancing moments in life when eyes meet and instantly intertwine. Julia Roberts teams up well with both James Franco and Javier Bardem to contrast her role in the relationships. She is weak with David (James Franco) and transforms into a confident and sensual woman with Felipe (Javier Bardem). Richard Jenkins plays Richard from Texas well to become a memorable character, and is added to the list of friends who change her life no matter how hard she tries to resist.

Gilbert's story is not a model for everyone -a sabbatical to find themselves. The movie hints that it is directed for a mature audience, and it is not recommended as a date movie. Boyfriends should expect to fall asleep in the first five minutes. "Eat Pray Love" tries to be a movie that can connect everybody but instead can only touch those that feel tired and trapped in a monotonous life.

Runtime: 2 hour 20 minutes
Rated: PG-13

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