Let me first start off with saying that looking around the theater, I felt I had mistakenly walked into an AARP meeting. The targeted demographic, I assumed, was older women (who brought their husbands) who have already read the book. With Julia Roberts as the lead, this didn’t surprise me as much, though I figured a younger crowd may have had their interest piqued with James Franco, who had a minor, but welcoming role.
Eat Pray Love centers around Liz Gilbert (Roberts) a married and successful working woman who isn’t content with her life and is confused about who she is and what she wants from others. The beginning starts off with her divorcing her husband (Billy Crudup) and having a brief fling with a stage actor (Franco). Still not finding what she is looking for, she sets out on a journey to travel the world visiting Italy where she eats her heart away, India where she prays to find her inner peace and Bali where she meets a man (Javier Bardem) that she falls in love with.
Having liked many of Roberts’ previous films, I thought that I would find Eat Pray Love enjoyable and entertaining. Instead, her acting was lifeless and the events portrayed seemed created on a whim. Being that I have not read the novel it was based on, perhaps I was missing some key details. However, this review is solely on the film and not the novel.
Roberts has no chemistry with any of her love interests. Billy Crudup was dull, Franco, though alluring, was thrown in a relationship that was hardly convincing and Bardem was the most random casting choice. His portrayal did not come off as charming or even half-heartedly likable. The standout character performances were from Ketut (Hadi Subiyanto) who becomes Gilbert’s spiritual advisor and Wayan (Christine Hakim) the Balinese medicine woman that Gilbert helps out.
In the end, I could have passed on seeing this in the theater. Even as a rental it would have been a waste of time. Many have praised the book and maybe everyone should stick to the original novel rather than the film. Eat Pray Love was supposed to provide empowerment and promotion of self-adventure, but all that was seen was a confused middle-aged lady who never discovered herself during her youth. In the end there was eating, praying and that’s when I began snoozing before any loving came about.