Posted by: greercn | September 29, 2010

Eat Pray Love

There is a particular type of rich American woman who has a new patron saint in Elizabeth Gilbert’s self-obsessed princess. Those of you who believe in the stiff upper lip, look away now. There is no place for you here.

The few men at the Stratford Picture House looked desperately uncomfortable. I do hope the two hours and 20 minutes of suffering they endured got them some sort of pay off from the women they accompanied. The poor loves deserved a reward.

Have you been to Manhattan and heard a perfectly-groomed woman demanding an item that isn’t on the menu and then browbeating staff, loudly? That’s our Liz. We are meant to believe she is spiritual because she dresses slightly eccentrically. As played by Julia Roberts, this whole movie becomes the lightest of quests for spirituality and meaning, in bite-sized chunks. Liz wants a big deep life and she wants it fast, to take away and with extra cheese.

Billy Crudup is the unfortunate husband who is rejected because – well, we never actually learn why. He is discarded with forensic precision. Julia as Liz gets involved with the handsome James Franco, but he doesn’t ask her to stay (clearly a hanging offence in Manhattan) so she takes off to Italy and suddenly there is a little redemption in the movie.

I really want to go back to Italy again, because the place and food look scrumptious. Given that this class of Manhattan woman only eats on alternate Saturdays in July, the sheer greed on display must seem like a religious experience in itself to the target American female audience. Oh, and Italians can be quite relaxed, so there’s another revelation for you.

After Italy, we get a few months at an ashram in India. If you’ve ever lost a friend to a cult, you will feel deeply uncomfortable in this any old guru will do approach. After finding herself – curious, because Julia is never missing from our sight lines – she heads for Bali where there is more guru babble, more lovely scenery and Javier Bardem.

Whether you think this is good or not will depend on whether you think Javier is cuter than Billy. For me, the jury is out. The settings are all utterly gorgeous and will make you wish to travel just as far away from this movie as your budget will take you.

Viola Davis, Arlene Tur and Richard Jenkins offer bright spots in this wallow in the swimming pool that is the self-help industry. Needless to add, it’s been two days since I saw it and I can only just be bothered to write about it now. I will not be buying the DVD and would advise all but the most addled by new age nonsense to just say no.

It’s based on a book and I finally understand why some people burn some of those. I am so relieved that I have never written anything so shallow and silly.

Julia is just too old to play this convincingly. The others look a little trapped by a truly cloying script. The music is very good, but it seems to come from another and much better story. I just managed not to fall asleep.

I believe in spirituality, prayer and good food. I am tolerant and love movies. But I loathed this film and needed a long shower afterwards. If you love this, you are so shallow that I fear you have no soul or heart at all. Go to the place of faith of your choice. Pray for depth and character.



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