Last month’s Read&Watch was International Bestseller Love Eat Pray by Elizabeth Gilbert. ReaderIReadIt provided the review of the book and FilmRamblings provided the film review. See what we had to say and then share your thoughts in the comments below.
Packing up and travelling around the world is for most people the stuff dreams are made of. For Elizabeth Gilbert, after a divorce and a relationship breakdown, she decided to take the chance and attempt to find herself again through her journey. Her year of travelling took her to Italy to Eat, to India to Pray and finally to Bali where she came to love. Many have criticised Gilbert for not experiencing the complete unknown as she had the luxury of an advance for her memoirs, giving her a safety net others aren’t lucky to have. Nevertheless, it is still an interesting journey and worth the read.
Some of the most intriguing parts of Gilbert’s journey are the characters she meets along the way, most interestingly the people of Bali from the old wise guru and his wife, to the medicine woman, a fellow divorcee and single parent and with a positive outlook on life. Gilbert’s challenge of trying to raise money to help buy them a house is an interesting one, especially when the woman asks for more money in order to buy a hotel. The differences between Western generosity and Eastern poverty is more complex than you think, no matter how good a friend you are.
This will be a book which will divide people’s opinions. Some will love Gilbert others will think her self-loving but it’s important to put into perspective that although she had the money to travel and others go through more trauma than a divorce, she came through a difficult time to achieve her dream. Overall, you will want to skim some bits, savour others but hopefully come out inspired ready to begin your own adventure.
Eat Pray Love, starring Julia Roberts, is based on the international bestselling book, Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything by Elizabeth Gilbert. The memoirs chronicle Gilbert’s trip to Italy, India and Bali, which she undertakes after a painful divorce in order to find herself and heal. The book was released in 2006 and has sold over five million copies worldwide, so it was only a matter of time before a film version would be released. However, regardless of its success the book received mixed reviews from both critics and readers – would the film suffer a similar fate?
As with many film adaptations Eat Pray Love rarely lives up to the complex story telling of the book. Whilst Gilbert’s writing style invites you in and you are able to connect and appreciate the journey she is undertaking, in the film some of the pivotal scenes lack impact and clear explanation. The sentimentality is also layered rather thickly in parts and with Gilbert’s reasons for leaving her husband coming across as rather vague it has boasted many to scathingly claim that Gilbert is overly self-absorbed and is blind to the privileges of her seemingly perfect life. I will leave it up to you to decide whether that is an accurate description, but as piece of film there are many enjoyable moments and I feel that some of the critics have been overly harsh in there estimation.
Running at over two hours and twenty minutes there are parts when the film does seem to drag and lose momentum, but overall it is still an extremely watchable and entertaining film. It is great seeing Roberts back on the screen and taking centre stage. Embodying many of the qualities of Gilbert she brings all her years of experience to the role and offers a commanding and mature performance. Emotionally connecting with the character she oozes charm and likeability and her winning smile carries the project. Richard Jenkins, who plays Richard, a Texan, who Gilbert meets at the Ashram in India, gives one of the standout supporting performances. Whilst, Javier Bardem, regrettably never really seems to settle in the role as Felipe, the romantic love interest.
The backdrops of Italy, India and Bali add a richness and blazing colour to the film and director Ryan Murphy clearly illustrates the theme of each country; Italy for food, India for prayer and Bali for love. The wonderful vistas are positioned to star alongside Julia Roberts and in some ways they do detract from the real reason why Gilbert is on her journey. But the big weakness with Eat Pray Love is that while the story is about an emotional and spiritual journey, Murphy has made a film that is in essence rather shallow and which is more about the ‘look’ than actual substance. This jars and contradicts the nature of the story creating a film that while is enjoyable is also rather unfulfilling.
Eat Pray Love is one of those films that will no doubt continue to divide audiences. For those who have read and loved the book, the film has lots of appeal and many enjoyable moments. Whilst for those who have not read it but have heard all the negative reviews; I simply say watch the film and make up your own mind. You never know you might be pleasantly surprised, or equally you may heartily agree with all the negative reports.
Leave your comments below to tell us what you thought about the film. If you have a great suggestion for a book and film adaptation for Read&Watch then email: email@example.com
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