Tuesday 17 August 2010

Movie Review: Eat, Pray, Love

Me: What do you known about Eat, Pray, Love?

A female colleague at work: This woman [the author of the book] is full of herself; she's a big time narcissist and the movie is supposed to be terrible.

Hmmm. Eat, Pray, Love? Eat, Pray, Loathe? Well, with that ringing endorsement...

Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia has been on the New York Times Best Seller for 158 weeks. This 2006 memoir by American author Elizabeth Gilbert (b. 1969), chronicles her attempt to put her life back together after a divorce and a bad affair. "Eat" is represented by four months in Italy of enjoying life; "Pray" is 4 months in India finding her spirituality and "Love" comprises a stay in Bali, Indonesia where she meets a man. Ms. Gilbert has received the full endorsement of the queen of daytime television, Oprah Winfrey which no doubt plays a part in the success of the book and its staying power on the Best Seller list.

The movie, starring Julie Roberts attempts to capture the personal journey of the writer, encapsulating a book of 352 pages in 2 hours and 13 minutes. However, as with most if not all book adaptations, the movie doesn't quite impart the details of the spiritual journey of the author; somehow the story telling in text never seems to translate that well onto the silver screen. The visual presentation doesn't quite capture the personal narrative; you can't completely recreate the thoughts of the author in a movie.

The locales are beautiful and the people are pretty but the result is more of a travelogue than a personal journey. But, I can see that the appreciation for the movie will be very much dependent on the viewer, whether they have read the book and whether they gave the book thumbs up or thumbs down. It is sometimes odd how a movie can stand on its own: you don't need to read the book and how a so-so or even a bad movie can turn out to better if the viewer has read the book and enjoyed it. Julie Roberts is, as per usual, a delight. That unto itself is not sufficient to see the film but for those who do see the film, a bonus over and above the story itself.

So, should you go see the film? If you have read the book, I'm sure you will not be able to not see it. However, I will now add what I consider to be the best assessment of any film: the rating from Rotten Tomatoes. Eat, Pray, Love garnered 38%, well below the 60% certified fresh threshold making it definitely "rotten". As I've said elsewhere, I have come to trust the Rotten Tomatoes' rating as an excellent indicator of the quality of the film and I can say from experience that if the rating is below 60%, you are taking a risk, sometimes a big risk that your movie experience is not going to be pleasant. 38%? I want 2 hours of my life back!

Thinking of this movie adaptation of the book, this experience certainly reminds me of another famous book, the Da Vinci Code. I loved the book but considered the movie at best just so-so. Unlike the movie, the narrative of the book, the process of reading as opposed to watching gave me a sense of a one on one connection with the author and an appreciation of his ability to describe things and events. It allowed me to "get into" his characters by sometimes reading their thoughts. The movie just didn't do that for me.


For those of you who read the book, you will find below some interesting links to various reviews and secondary sources of information about it. Have fun!

Rotten Tomatoes: Eat, Pray, Love: 38%

The NY Times: book review

Wikipedia: Eat, Pray, Love

Wikipedia: Elizabeth Gilbert

Official Movie Web Site

Elizabeth Gilbert's official web site: Eat, Pray, Love

The NY Post: book review <-- [laughs] This review is definitely thumbs down!

The Oprah Show: Why We Can't Stop Talking About Eat, Pray, Love!


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