wogma rating: Add to 'must watch' list (?)
At some point, every hotel lobby, airplane seat pocket, pirated street book seller and the bestseller section in bookstores had a copy of Eat Pray Love. Honestly, the book was indulgent and extremely disconnected. The movie Eat Pray Love however, works as a soul-searching travelogue because of its visual prowess. It’s a pretty picture and it instills a dream within you – you can choose to rubbish it as ridiculously over-achieved or harmless wishful thinking.Read more
The difference between being an adult and wishing you were still a school/college going child is "wishful thinking". As an adult it’ll always be the unachievable ridiculous thought that you had – and as a child, it would be a fantasy. A world, which you know with all your might that you’ll reach to. Eat Pray Love in some parts becomes that for you, as an audience, to wish and dream for a soul-searching journey across three countries (Italy, India and Thailand).
Almost Julia Roberts’ comeback movie (after a couple of forgotten appearances, like in Ocean’s Eleven, Valentine’s Day) in Eat Pray Love, she plays Elizabeth Gilbert, a New York based travel writer who has a dream life – money, success and a marriage, but is confused and not happy. As a newly divorced, directionless single woman, she decides to spend four months each in Italy, India and Bali to find herself – or maybe achieve answers to questions she’s not yet formed.
Through her journey, we learn that nothing about getting out of your comfort space and moving to different cultures is easy. While we can relate to the Indian part of her journey, it seems mortifying to live in a tight neighborhood in Rome, with scrapping wallpaper, middle-finger-showing 7 year-olds and men who grope your bottom as a tradition. And yet, Rome becomes for Gilbert the "Eating" part of her discovery. She eats; to learn about surroundings, to mingle with warm, new friends and to be happy.
Elizabeth’s next stop is an Ashram in India – possible her toughest 4 months, but most rewarding. We see her grapple with her stability issues and find her sense of self. She meets Richard (played by the charming Richard Jenkins), a Texan with alcohol issues who comes to the Ashram for similar reasons. Their chemistry is delightful; right up Roberts’ alley of being a stimulating co-actor with older men (Pretty Woman, Erin Brokovich).
It’s in Bali, that she finds balance – in the form of Love. She meets Felipe. Javier Bardem is easily the best part about the film, with his calm, endearing demeanour. Elizabeth falls in love with Felipe. You ask no questions there, because it seems so easy to fall in love with Felipe, a music composer set in Bali.
Full credit goes to Ryan Murphy (also co-writer of the film) to make her entire experience extremely live-able. Every bite she takes of the Spagetti and Pizza Margherita in Rome, you can feel her insides thanking her for it. Every calm breath she takes in the serene ashram in India, at the backdrop of colorful marriages and children running behind tires, you live the moment with her. You fall in love with Felipe too, and there lies your ability to wishfully want to Eat, Pray, and Love.
The movie has beautiful photography, featuring gorgeous shots of the Colloseum, the Tuscan countryside, even the food Gilbert eats. The cinematography in India wasn’t as colorful and explored as I would have hoped, but it more than makes up for that folly in Bali – which almost looks like a beach-heaven. Coupled with culturally appropriate background scores (Opera-esque husky vocals in Rome, the Sitar in India and a calm Harp chime in Bali) and Eat Pray Love makes for a beautiful picture. The DVD has 5 minutes of extra footage – mostly of Gilberts’ discovery process of each country. It also contains a featurette with Ryan Murphy about his experience with the film. You wouldn’t miss either of the two.
Unlike the book, which seems like a rich New Yorker’s extremely convenient travelogue about whining her way to balance, Eat Pray Love the movie genuinely allows you to travel with the protagonist. You don’t address the underlying questions through the film, the same questions (Where does she get the money? How can she just walk out on her life and expect the world to fall at her feet?) that nag you while reading the book.
These questions however, fundamentally bind Eat Pray Love. Every now and then, it will come back to you in some form. You will want to criticize the film for being a Cinderalla book, and too romantic. But that’s exactly when you know the adult in you is talking.
Take your pick. You could question, criticize and flinch at the idealism in the film or you could get inspired and paint your own travelogue.
This review is by guest reviewer Swetha Ramakrishnan. Swetha Ramakrishnan is currently living and working in Mumbai. She's a self-confessed film enthusiast and can most likely be found talking to anyone and everyone about popular cinema and her love for SRK. Swetha Ramakrishnan also blogs at http://swetharamakrishnan.blogspot.com/.
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