EAT, PRAY, LOVE (director/writer: Ryan Murphy; screenwriter: Jennifer Salt/based on the book by; cinematographer: ; editor: Bradley Buecker; music: Dario Marianelli; cast: (Liz Gilbert), (David Piccolo), Richard Jenkins (Richard From Texas), (Delia Shiraz), (Stephen), (Felipe), Giuseppe Gandini (Luca Spaghetti), Tuva Novotny (Sofi), Christine Hakim (Wayan Nuriyasih), Hadi Subiyanto (Ketut Liyer), Rushita Singh (girl in ashram), Mike O’Malley (Andy Shiraz), Giuseppe Gandini (Spaghetti); Runtime: 133; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producer: Dede Gardner; Columbia Pictures; 2010)
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Lush photography of exotic locations by Ryan Murphy (“Running with Scissors,” known for TV fare such asGlee and Nip/Tuck),an intelligent screenplay with meaningful life lessons by Jennifer Salt, all contribute in bringing the bestseller memoir by
NYC dwelling middle-aged writerLiz Gilbert ()dumps her playful husband) because of anunfulfilling marriage and takes up with a shallow young handsome actor, David (), in a relationship that also ends badly but on a friendly note. David introduced her to his new found female guru’s Hindu meditation study group and for the first time Liz begins to ask serious questions about the meaning of life. Liz confides her doubts about what she seeks to her stable, happily-married, best friend confidant, Delia (her a generous advance to write this book, and that seems good enough to live in Rome like a rich American and tour the trattorias dining for four months on mouth-watering Italian cuisine and hanging around with a group of ultra-friendly folks.At the ashram Liz meets a damaged middle-aged divorced man from Texas(Richard Jenkins), who ruined his life being an alcoholic and is now struggling to get himself together to get on with life and learn to love again. Liz also meets a young girl (Rushita Singh) who fears her upcoming arranged marriage won’t work. Before leaving, without meeting the guru (who ironically is in New York) Liz learns that God dwells in her. In Bali, Liz reunites with Ketut (Hadi Subiyanto), the medicine man who can tell her fortune by reading her palms but doesn’t remember her until she tells him everything he said on their last visit a few years ago (leaving us uncertain whether he remembered her or not). When Liz cuts her leg, Ketut sends her to a lady healer (Christine Hakim, Indonesian screen legend). The two healers repair her soul along with her physical ailments, and Liz’s now ready to find love with a gentle divorced Brazilian import-export businessman, Felipe (
It was hard to get what was going on in Liz’s head without it being externalized through her voice-over, her lovers, her friends, her fellow-travelers and the wise gurus. All the positive messages came out flat, even though they made sense.But it’s a film tailor-made for Julia Roberts, and at the end of the day I believe her performance was spot-on, effectively showing her insecure side and that she did go on a genuine inward journey and went through some change even though she could never give up her “me-first” consumerism. The target female viewers might get a spiritual uplift from this seemingly easy globe-trotting fantasy wish-fulfilling way to get back one’s life after man trouble, as Julia’s need for self-examination seemed earnest and how she did it was both entertaining and authentic (whether or not you thought much of her inner journey). If you don’t expect this pic to read like Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha, I think one might find its breezy journey around the world to be just the right medicine for those multitudes not ready to completely surrender their ego to find nirvana.
REVIEWED ON 8/15/2010 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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