You may also know it by its alternate title: MY WORST LIVING NIGHTMARE.
I’ve mentioned this periodically in reviews for movies like IT’S COMPLICATED, but EAT PRAY LOVE suffers from what I like to call Rich White People syndrome. I’m sure there's not a person on this earth that at one time or another hasn’t felt lost or directionless and in need of a change. However, most of us don't have the means or the audacity to leave our loved ones, abandon our responsibilities and go dick around the globe for a year whenever we have an identity crisis. Thereby, watching a character do this really makes it hard for me to sympathize or connect with him/her. And EAT PRAY LOVE is not good enough a movie to overcome this hurdle.
Let me make it clear; the message of the movie isn't bad—it's how it's portrayed and suggested that's just not done well. Julia Roberts does fine work, but the surface-level script makes her character surprisingly unlikable, feeling more like a shell of the cliché woman instead of a real human. Liz Gilbert doesn’t want to work on her relationships or herself, she just wants to indulge in what she loves while she waits for the perfection she thinks she deserves. (I imagine this is the equivalent of porn for women.) She divorces her loving husband (Billy Crudup), stomps on the heart of her young lover (James Franco) and sets off to Italy to load up on carbs, using “I don’t know how to be here” as an excuse. It's utterly annoying for anyone who's ever been in a real relationship.
Ironically, the best things about EAT PRAY LOVE are the men. In addition to reliable performances by Crudup and Franco, the film also features the amazing Richard Jenkins, who's fantastic in his small role as Roberts' spiritual buddy. (It seems like every random person she meets on the street has some amazing advice or meaningful life experience to share with her. And you know she's finally found her spiritual side when she befriends an elephant.) And then there's Javier Bardem, in what is probably the most ridiculous casting ever, playing a guy who hasn’t been with a woman in 10 years. (Yeah, right. Javier Bardem hasn’t been with a woman in 10 minutes.) The Spanish heartthrob naturally equates in to the "love" part of the story, which means he doesn't show up until the final act. The result: more time is spent on the romance with Franco at the beginning of the movie than with Bardem at the end. Their relationship just happens and you accept it because they're both attractive people falling in love in a beautiful locale (Bali), but as characters in real romance, there's almost nothing to go on with.
I truly don't believe this is a case of a male not understanding or empathizing with something innately feminine. EAT PRAY LOVE is a crappy movie no matter what kind of genitalia you possess.
Ryan Murphy's Journey (4:18): The director speaks about how he came upon the book (it touched him after a traumatic break up) and the path that led him to Julia Robert and the film. He offers some generic advice to me and women about how it's never too late to change your life.
Beginning of a Journey (15:25): Author Liz Gilbert explains how the story came about in her life and the parallels between the ensuing book/film and her life. There are also interviews with Roberts, James Franco, Viola Davis and other, who give obvious answers about how the book changed their lives.
Praying in India (14:41): A repeat of the above focusing on filming on location in India and what that segment of the movie means, complete with interviews with Roberts and Richard Jenkins.
Finding Balance (11:48): Another similar feature with cast and crew commenting on working in "paradise" in Bali and the country as a character in the film.
A Music Video for Eddie Vedder's "Better Days" (Really, Eddie Vedder?) and Previews.
Extra Tidbit: If you did like the movie, feel free to buy one of the 400 merchandising tie-ins, including EAT PRAY LOVE jewelry, perfume, tea, prayer beads and gelato machines.