Saturday, August 14, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love all you want but a little less whining please..

It may have been a mistake to write about one of my favorite movie types previously - travel porn - because I think by trying to define it, I may have somehow ruined it.  I assumed the story of a woman seeking a new lease on life by spending a year of travel and exploration in Italy, India and Bali would have ample scenery and local color to ignite my natural wonder lust. However the movie conventions I usually adore, were just short of grating in "Eat, Pray, Love". Julia Roberts plays Liz Gilbert, a writer who goes through a vague and hazy sort of mid life crisis, ends her marriage, jumps into another ill advised and doomed relationship and finally sets off on a year long journey to find her zest for life. This beginning set up is a little too long for my tastes and full of modern "Oprah" speak about "lost passion".  I did enjoy Liz's best friend played by the very hard working actress Viola Davis. She delivers some great lines like, "Having a baby is like getting a tattoo on your face. You need to be committed". I never did completely understand the source or the nature of Liz's problems but soon she is off to three destinations that are defined by the movie's title.

Italy - This is all about eating and probably my favorite part of the movie. Liz moves into an aptly rundown but beautiful apartment and meets and assortment of funny, sweet international friends. The settings and the food are filmed in a way that really captures the romanticism of travel. My only nitpick with this part of the movie is the conceit that Liz and her new Swedish friend are gaining weight because of the sheer amount of drop dead gorgeous carbs they are eating. To pull this off may have taken some Bridget Jones action but instead we are served the silliness of a still sleek Julia Roberts trading in her really skinny jeans for the next size up of really skinny jeans.

India - Liz sets off to India to meditate and pray away her troubles. The first scenes in India are very well done and capture the overwhelming experience it must be for a first time visitor from the west. The rest of her stay in India is bit of bore in my opinion. We are treated again to a litany of Liz's woes but I still did not understand what she wanted. Again a side character at least supplies some interest. Richard Jenkins, who excels in everything from the deepest drama ("The Visitor")  to the silliest of comedies ("Step Brothers"), serves as the voice of the viewer (maybe?) and brashly tells Liz to get over it.

Bali - Liz's last destination answers the core question of the movie, will Liz find true love again? Bali is beautiful and nothing negative about the movie can take away from that. Roberts too is beautiful in a dress up Barbie sort of way as she wears lots of local outfits. You can probably guess that Liz does find love in the end after meeting a teary eyed, feminist wet dream sort of guy played by Javier Bardem.  I'll give him credit. He plays his part so well that this was the first time in three years that he did not scare the crap out of me due to flashbacks of the casual violence and menace in "No Country for Old Men".

Why so harsh on this movie? I don't know. Maybe it was sitting through the trailer for Katherine Heigl's new romcom train wreck that put me in a foul mood. To be fair, I'll give it another viewing when it's out on DVD.


Anonymous said...

The thing you wrote about Javier Bardem made me laugh. He still scares the crap out of me too. Maybe I should see this when it comes out On Demand?

Savira Gupta said...

I loved your point of view and will not differ from it too much.True it was predictable However I enjoyed the movie very much. My view is, look beyond the mundane and the obvious.There is more to a person than what was shown.... just dig a little deeper.
We all have a story to tell and it may be mundane and boring to others but it is a story and this resonates with a lot of women.
Just my thought

Mocking Movies said...

Thanks for the comments...I love any and all feedback. ..When you have a name like Mocking Movies people expect an edge...I almost softened this review because I worried that for the sake of being clever, I was being too harsh. Honestly, on my couch, in comfy clothes and a drink in hand I'm betting I will find Eat Pray Love an enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours...and Julia Roberts smile is hard to resist.