Monday, August 16, 2010

At the Movies: Some Thoughts on Eat Pray Love

I kept the movie momentum going this weekend by seeing Eat Pray Love with my mom on Sunday. Now, I hadn't read the book. (Usually, I like to read the book before seeing the movie, but I'd heard bad things about this one and decided to pass.) Yet despite the hype, I wasn't expecting much. And I turned out to be right; the movie was about a whole lot of nothing trying very hard to be something.

Basically, it's the story of Liz Gilbert (Julia Roberts), a writer who decides she's no longer in love with her husband (Billy Crudup), a guy who's only crime is that he's a dreamer who changes careers a lot. So she gets divorced, has an affair with a much-younger actor (James Franco), and travels to Italy, India, and Bali (insert cliche here) to find herself.

The premise seems promising. I mean, what woman doesn't want to run away from her life every now and then? But Liz's journey fails to live up to its potential because it lacks depth and direction. Once an inveterate eater of salads, she embarks upon a "no carb left behind experiment" that results in weight gain and the need for "big girl jeans." Once afraid to talk to God, she seeks out gurus and meditation experts and swallows their beliefs without examining them. And of course, once relationship-challenged, she finally falls in love, sailing off with a guy she's known for only a couple of weeks. To be honest, I found all of this to be pointless and boring. For the life of me, I couldn't understand why a woman would need to travel the world to "have a relationship with her pizza" and meet a decent guy. But maybe that's because I'm a homebody in a smug relationship with no compunctions about stuffing my face full of carbs.

I also couldn't understand why Liz would want to stay in some broken-down apartment in Italy with no running bath water or an ashram in India where she was required to scrub floors. Equally baffling and unrealistic were the quick, close-knit friendships she seemed to forge with just about everyone she met.

I can't help but think that this movie wanted women to accept Liz as this enlightened feminist role model when she was really just an emotionally unavailable victim of her own made-up problems.

But enough with the snarkiness. Surely I can come up with something good to say about this movie. Julia Roberts did a fine job playing Liz and probably infused the character with more likability than she deserved. The scenery in Bali was lushly breathtaking. And one of Liz's Italian friends says that Americans work too hard and enjoy too little, slaving away at 9-to-5 jobs all week only to collapse on the weekends, spending the entire time in their pajamas in front of the TV. I couldn't argue with that one.

To be honest, I enjoyed Dinner for Schmucks more.

No comments: