Movies Books Music Food Tv Shows Technology Politics Video Games Parenting Fashion Green Living more >

Lunch » Tags » Movies » Reviews » Eat Pray Love (movie) » User review

Eat Pray Love (2010)

A movie directed by Ryan Murphy

< read all 8 reviews

The Cult of Me

  • Aug 27, 2010
Whether or not "Eat, Pray, Love" adequately represents the bestselling memoir of the same name (Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia) by author Liz Gilbert or not doesn't really matter. Is it the fault of the filmmaker or the writer when the piece attempts to hit the side-of-the-barn of greater meaning and just barely skims the surface?

"Eat, Pray, Love: the Phenomenon" recounts the year long journey of writer Liz Gilbert as she recovers from a messy divorce and an unfulfilling affair/relationship with a very 21st century self-absorbed pragmatism that appeals to both aging flower children and their "look-inward" progeny. By combining worldly angst with the spiritual fascination of Eastern religions made fashionable by the Beatles in the 60s, Gilbert attempts to fill many different types of holes in the spirit of self-development simultaneously. Although she succeeds somewhat in her book, director Ryan Murphy's film stalls when it fails to define itself within a particular genre. Not that this ambiguity alone causes the film to fail--it ambles along prettily enough but unfortunately without enough thrust to make it stand out as a must-see event.

Murphy/Gilbert's audience contains the wide subset of Oprah Winfrey watchers--those of the "live your dream" mantra that desire nothing more than to be able to make a lucrative career out of facilitating something they love. Gilbert surely fits the bill here: her publisher financed her journey of discovery to three foreign countries where she could eat, pray and love her way to bigger pay check.

Just what Gilbert is fleeing is up for grabs. Her marriage to Billy Crudup doesn't work and neither does her affair with the young hottie actor (James Delicious Franco)--how sad is that? Neither of these man ask her to sacrifice her livelihood for them--Crudup is depicted as financially dependent on her and Franco blows her off emotionally when he realizes she is looking for him to save her. As she wanders through the streets of Rome on the first leg of her trek, the audience senses her confusion--is the melancholy of her past preventing her from enjoying the pleasurable sensations of the present and the future?

The juxtaposition of the "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" theme while in Italy--mucho plated food porn, the hum of Vespas and so many leather-clad Italians looking chic in skinny jeans--with the austere loneliness of the Augusteum in Rome to depict the change that the world and time has on one's inner identity marries the desire to splurge with a sad introspection that tries too hard--hinting at depression but not quite spelling it out. Perhaps knowing that Gilbert actually battled depression with medication may help the audience better understand and relate to the confused emotional shifts through which the main character traverses.

Murphy avoids this descent within the modern mindset for pharmacopia focusing instead for more than half of the film on Gilbert's sojourn at the Indian ashram. Is he commenting on the fact that the status of being a spiritual seeker is just part of a look at the ersatz intelligentsia--those who emote often and within the boundaries of copious self-development/how-to realms where just living a good life with great companions isn't quite en vogue anymore? Is he telling us that enlightenment has become the newest and trendiest goal? In this sense, is it any wonder that the most predominant self-help guru of our time (Oprah Winfrey) has taken Gilbert under her lofty wings and is promoting not only the author's bestselling memoir but also the film and its star, Julia Roberts? Is he helping to build an "Eat, Pray, Love" franchise that advocates taking a long break from reality while attempting to peel away the layers that hide the inner self?

Who knows?

Gilbert's activities at the ashram are never really defined--her inner journey becomes trite and cutesy rather real and mind-boggling. Whatever conclusion she reaches doesn't really reach the viewer--the audience waits for the "love" leg of the triangle because that is how a film as attractive as this with an attractive main character should end--with love.

All this would be very cool if the film defined itself in more universal terms. As a travelogue, the cinematography lovingly captures the Eternal City, the riotous humanity of Mumbai and the lush jungles of Bali with a glossy expertise that would do both National Geographic and Travel & Leisure proud. As a romantic fantasy--girl is married to wrong guy, has affair with younger actor and than finds the hunkiest Brazilian ex-pat this side of Ipanema even after gorging herself with indulgent amounts of pizza, pasta and gelato--'EPL' might work. However, the screenplay makes the mistake of dictating a New Age panacea for the ennui of modern life. Whereas the average viewer expects a visual nirvana of charming faraway places, he/she is force-fed the not-so-palatable pill of Liz's self-absorption. The result confuses; the storyline seems over-edited. The overall messages gleaned from the experiences in the three places don't really flow with any real meaning because even though we are treated to some voiceover, we are not privy to the progression (if any) of Liz's without-rhyme or reason thought as we are in her equally poorly formatted book. The bulk of the film's time is spent focusing on the routine of the ashram in Ganeshpuri, India where Liz fumbles through meditation, her early morning devotionals and some textbook feminism regarding the woman-unfriendly aspects of marriage. Why she is there and what she hopes to gain other than to meet the guru of her ex-boyfriend is never fully mapped out. She snaps with frustration at the gruff Richard from Texas (Richard Jenkins) also playing pilgrim at the hermitage and he speaks in zen to get her to the point where she can get between the sheets with Javier in an Indonesian hut. Huh? The amalgamation of the material world with that of the spiritual and the sensual covers too much ground in too little time while the formulaic ending of girl riding the waves with her new man trivializes the more somber issues introduced but never fully developed or rectified in the first two segments of the trek.

As "Eat, Pray, Love" can't figure out just exactly what its point is, the actors can't figure out how to play it. Choreographed with MTV-ish segments of Julia as Liz in different parts of the world, the audience strives to participate but cannot--Liz's pain is explained, but it is too nebulous--too deep and indulgent to fully understand. All Julia Roberts can do is alternatively look sad or happy.

Bottom line? Watching Julia Roberts travel to three different world venues as she ponders the big question of life's meaning doesn't quite work in this film adaptation of Liz Gilbert's bestselling book "Eat, Pray, Love." A better venue for this soul trek would have been a National Geographic series where the points of scenery and dogma could have been better exemplified in documentary format. Think Japan (4 tape set) [VHS] hosted by Jane Seymour. More clearly introduced information would have fleshed out the personal stuff giving the audience more background and less muddle. Recommended only for those who like Julia Roberts and simplified travel journals with fairytale endings.
Diana Faillace Von Behren

What did you think of this review?

Fun to Read
Post a Comment
More Eat Pray Love (movie) reviews
review by . August 14, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Isn't it nice to have the time, the resources, and the money to be able to travel the world and rediscover life, love, and spirituality? We should all be as lucky as Elizabeth Gilbert. Her memoir, "Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia," has sold millions, been on the "New York Times" Best Seller list for 158 weeks, and touched the lives of thousands. One of them was Oprah Winfrey, who devoted two whole episodes of her show to the book. I admit that …
review by . August 21, 2010
Liz is unhappy.  And that takes some doing, considering she has a handsome husband, an exciting job as a writer, and plenty of money.  But feeling bored and unfulfilled, she leaves her husband to eat, pray, and love her way around the world, spending time in Italy, India, and Bali.    I couldn't relate to Liz (Julia Roberts) at all.  She was miserable having a life most people dream about.  Her search for "balance" consisted of a series of love …
review by . April 13, 2011
   I've not read the wildly popular memoir so I can't compare the movie to Elizabeth Gilbert's book.      The film finds Liz, Julia Roberts, in a crisis of self. As in she doesn't know who she is -- she lives as an extension of of the man in her life and is dissatisfied. She receives a prophecy about her life and marriage. This prophecy winds its way under her skin and she festers with discontent.      What results is a slow discovery …
Quick Tip by . April 21, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Normally I loathe films based on "an inspirational true story", nor do I consider myself a Julia Roberts fan, and I typically don't care for romantic comedies... so, I'm asking myself why I kind of liked this. Perhaps it was the exotic locales depicted in the film (Italy, India, and Bali), or perhaps it was the combination of dialogue about food and meditation, or perhaps I'm just turning into a pathetic softie and losing all sense of objectivity in my evaluation of movies. …
review by . November 15, 2010
On paper maybe this movie seems like a better idea. After all it did spend over 155 weeks on the New York Times best seller list. It is fantasy gone right and maybe that is the appeal of the story, we get to live out our desires through another. Bag that, I'd rather go on the trip myself.      Eat, Pray, Love is about Liz Glibert, who for no explicable reason other than not wanting to make cookies, decides to end her marriage. In order to find her balance she goes on a trip …
Quick Tip by . January 03, 2011
Just as annoying as the book - even Julia Roberts couldn't save this story from feeling like we're hearing the self indulgent ramblings of an over-privileged woman with some "rich people problems". Blech.
Quick Tip by . August 17, 2010
Hated the book, but JR is a favorite, so I'll probably see this when it comes to Netflix.
About the reviewer
Diana Faillace Von Behren ()
Ranked #166
I like just about anything. My curiosity tends to be insatiable--I love the "finding out" and the "ah-ha" moments.      Usually I review a book or film with the … more
Consider the Source

Use Trust Points to see how much you can rely on this review.

Your ratings:
rate more to improve this
About this movie


  • A woman who once made it her goal in life to marry and rear a family finds her priorities suddenly shifting in director Ryan Murphy's adaptation of author Elizabeth Gilbert's best-selling memoir. In the eyes of many, Gilbert was a woman who had it all -- a loving husband, a great apartment, and a weekend home -- but sometimes one realizes too little too late that they haven't gotten what they truly wanted from life. On the heels of a painful divorce, the woman who had previously looked forward to a contented life of domesticated bliss sets out to explore the world and seek out her true destiny. Brad Pitt and Dede Gardner produce a film starring Julia Roberts.
  • Poster art for "Eat, Pray, Love."
  • view wiki


    Director: Ryan Murphy
    Genre: Drama, Romance
    Release Date: August 13, 2010
    MPAA Rating: PG-13
    Screen Writer: Jennifer Salt, Ryan Murphy
    DVD Release Date: November 23, 2010
    Runtime: 133 minutes
    Studio: Columbia Pictures
    First to Review
    © 2015 Lunch.com, LLC All Rights Reserved
    Lunch.com - Relevant reviews by real people.
    This is you!
    Ranked #
    Last login
    Member since