Eat Pray Love
- James Mottram
- 22 September 2010
From Nip/Tuck to Glee, director Ryan Murphy has the golden touch when it comes to television. Not so, however, with film. His 2006 adaptation of Augusten Burroughs’ memoir Running With Scissors was a middle-of-the-road misfire and much the same could be said about this take on Elizabeth Gilbert’s hit bestseller, in which the author recounts her year following a painful divorce.
Julia Roberts plays Liz, a New York writer who travels to Italy, India and Indonesia for a therapeutic (and cliché-driven) journey of self-indulgence and self-discovery. First stop Rome, where Liz treats her tummy to some yummy pasta before heading off to an ashram on the sub-continent to clear her mind – or, at least, try to. Finally, she lands in Bali, where she meets and eventually falls for Brazilian divorcee Felipe (Javier Bardem).
While Bardem is decent enough, the men largely get short shrift in the film – from Billy Crudup’s soon-to-be-ex-husband to James Franco’s toy-boy actor that Liz has a brief pre-trip fling with. Only Richard Jenkins scores highly in the ashram segment, with a spot-on turn as a gruff Texan who tries to make Liz look outside her self-obsessed universe. As he was in The Visitor, Jenkins is effortless in his ability to convey emotion.
The same cannot be said for Roberts, though admittedly she has to shoulder the whole film. Perhaps because Gilbert’s own odyssey feels so superficial, Roberts’ performance echoes this – it’s all surface tears and smiles. With its excessive running time, this bloated travelogue is destined to have just one group of hardened admirers: travel agents.
General release, Fri 24 Sep.