Eating, praying, loving…what more could a disillusioned female want to achieve in her post-divorce life? Julia Roberts stars as Elizabeth Gilbert, a writer who opts for a year’s worth of cultural enlightenment in Italy, India and Indonesia (sorry, I mean work-related business activities) after her marriage breaks down.
Ooh…look! Having a plastic spoon in my mouth means I am both eating and thinking.
I admit I’m occasionally partial to films that indulge the ‘unplanned-romance-whilst-writer-pursues-reinvigorating-exotic-escapism’ ideal. Obviously – I’m a woman. ‘Eat Pray Love’ offers nothing less, but sadly, nothing more either. Cue the opening scene: Elizabeth conversing with an old man from Bali who expresses an intriguing premonition (and who is also likened to Yoda by our protagonist…interpret as you will): Elizabeth will be back soon to teach him English. Now if that doesn’t make you want to continue watching, I don’t know what will. Alas, if only ‘Yoda’ had revealed more detail regarding events to pass, he might’ve saved precious minutes of my life.
From scene to scene ‘Eat Pray Love’ is rather unremarkable, complemented only by long shots of foreign landscapes, scenes of elegant city life and a perfectly un-boring circle of friends who make great conversation with our protagonist, but better love with one another. Oh, and James Franco and Javier Bardem’s presence make the film acceptable too.
Unfortunately, for me, the story contains far too little of its first campaign promise, ‘eat’, unless you recount the moment that world renowned fatso Julia Roberts manages to chug a plateful of spaghetti (gripping stuff expressing her new-found ‘when in Rome’ attitude to life: when in Rome, eat). It remains unconfirmed as to whether JR may or may not have used a body double for this scene. Secondly, ‘pray’ – even Elizabeth’s spiritual venture to an Ashram in India left me unbothered about our protagonist’s journey of self-discovery, apart from one emotive monologue made by a supporting character she meets there. Also, disappointingly, we are hardly shown any of India’s rich culture, and the scenes that depict the pain one character endures whilst succumbing to her arranged marriage don’t count.
The main cast is impressive on paper, and the film is not let down by their performances, but the story behind the images is sadly no deeper than a plate of spaghetti. Overshadowing potential moments of poignancy is the inevitable conclusion of the film (the third campaign promise – ‘love’): Who needs independence? What you really need is the perfect man.
Natasha Yapp is an Edinburgh-based aspiring Scottish writer and comedienne (she aspires to be a writer and a comedienne, not to be Scottish – that has been achieved for over 22 years). In her spare time she likes to pretend that graduate life has gone from strength to strength by incessantly searching for jobs and having strong (non-ironic) opinions on reality TV. Natasha also enjoys writing and devising with her all-female political comedy group, Sister From Another Mister, who she is hoping will tour Malaysia in June 2013. Other preferred activities include playing Piano and Cello, travelling, walking and writing poetry. You can follow her comedy troupe, Sister from Another Mister, on twitter @SFAM1.