“Eat Pray Love” is a true story based on the best-selling book of the same title. The film stars Julia Roberts as Elizabeth “Liz” Gilbert, who is approaching the end of her child-bearing years, but still so desperately wants a baby. Liz ultimately divorces her husband because their eight-year marriage has gone stale for a variety of reasons, and there seems to be no hope of a baby in her future. Immediately following her failed marriage, Liz enters into a relationship with a 28-year-old actor, David (James Franco). Likewise, that relationship falls short of her expectations, and she starts to question why her keepsake box is filled with “Time” and “National Geographic” magazines, not baby clothes.
Liz feels the need to get away, enact a no-regrets policy, find out who she really is and experience life on her own terms. She decides to end her relationship with David, put all other responsibilities behind and take a one-year sabbatical visiting three countries: Italy, India and Indonesia (Bali). In Italy, she learns to enjoy eating without guilt, even if it means having to buy a bigger pair of pants. In India, she learns to pray for the first time in her life and experience a greater spirituality. In Bali, she learns to love again.
“Eat Pray Love” gets off to a slow start but gains momentum and manages to entertain its audience for the duration of its 2-plus-hour runtime. The movie is filled with marvelous scenery that engulfs the viewer. The audience is transported to another place and is taken on a journey with Liz. We see the same breathtaking sights, relish the food on display and are engaged by the people she meets, including the funny-but-sad character “Richard from Texas” (Richard Jenkins). Richard refers to Liz as “Groceries” because of all the food she eats. We also meet Felipe (Javier Bardem), Liz’s new love interest. One drawback is that for the time spent on her journey, far less focus is given to the developing relationship between Liz and Felipe.
“Eat Pray Love” maintains a get-to-the-point film style that doesn’t waste any time showing Liz in transit, but immediately jumps right into the mix with the next country on her itinerary. However, because of the nature of the film’s transitions, it could make the first few minutes of each new country slightly difficult to distinguish.
Julia Roberts has filmed her fair share of romantic comedies and “chick flicks” in the past, but “Eat Pray Love”, while still maintaining a “chick flick”-esque romantic aura, offers much more depth. This film actually has a point, offering a wholesome moral to the story, leaving you with something to think about. A metaphor of Liz relating her life to the Roman ruins is intriguing. Finally, she goes from self-centered, posh lifestyle in The Big Apple to utter humility, scrubbing temple floors and setting up a donation fund to afford a house for a poor single-mother and her family in Bali.
“Eat Pray Love” may also assist world-travelers in deciding where their next vacation should be. Italy, anyone? A word to the wise: eat before you see “Eat Pray Love.” The numerous close-up shots of delicious Italian foods are enough to make you salivate in your seat.