Saturday, August 14, 2010

Eat Pray Love - 1 1/2 stars

Julia Roberts plays Liz, a woman who is just not happy. When we meet her, she is in Bali doing research for a magazine article she is going to write. She meets an old palm reader who tells her that she will have 2 marriages, one short and the other long, she will soon lose all of her money, and she will come back again and teach him English.

Six months later, she is in New York. She is married to a nice guy played by Billy Crudup. She seems happy until she hears him say that he wants to go back to school and get his Master's degree. Suddenly she doesn't want to be married to him anymore. Now, maybe she hasn't been happy for a long time. Maybe they shouldn't have gotten married in the first place. But the movie makes her look like a total bitch. She wants out of the marriage just because her husband wants to go back to college? Oh, and the scene where she prays is terribly hammy. Praying in movies is never done well, and it really made me cringe in this movie.

She tells her friend (Viola Davis) that she longs to travel. She has a box she keeps under her bed, and in the box she keeps travel brochures of all the places she wants to visit. Sounds nice, except 6 months ago she was in freaking Bali! Most of us have never been to Bali. She gets to travel for her job, yet she is complaining like someone who works for minimum wage and has never left the continental US.

She starts seeing a young actor (James Franco), and she isn't happy with him either. The movie doesn't give us any insight into what the problems are. We don't really see them having an honest conversation about their relationship. She just decides that in order to be happy and get balance in her life, she needs to travel the world. Her plan is 4 months in Italy, 4 months in India, and 4 months in Bali.

We also see her telling her friend about how she has been in and out of relationships since she was a teenager. She has never had time to discover herself. How about take some time off from dating? It's not that hard. Someone asks you out, you say no. Just be single for a while.

There is no discussion about how she is going to pay for her trip. She gets divorced and we get the impression that her husband is getting at least half of everything she owned (she was the bread winner of that family). So how in the world can she afford to not work for a year and travel the world? This should have been addressed, but this is one of those movies made by rich people who can't comprehend an existence where you don't always have enough money for everything. It reminds me of that Jennifer Lopez movie where she works as a dog walker and lives in a million dollar condo.

She goes to Rome and moves into a place run by a fussy little Italian lady. There is a funny sequence where she shows Liz how to heat the water on the stove and pour the water into the bath tub. With less than an inch of water, Liz says "There isn't enough water." The woman responds "Everything that is important gets clean." Funny, but they never reference that again in the movie. I wondered if Liz ever figured out how to fill the tub properly. Every night she is going home and not able to take a real bath?

There isn't a good sense of time in the movie. I thought we were on her first or second day in Rome when she revealed she had been there two weeks. She suddenly discovers how good Italian food is, and she starts eating like she is in heaven. This was shot badly. For one thing, we get numerous close ups of Roberts shoving spaghetti into her huge mouth. I kept having to cover my eyes. Has anyone else noticed that there is something really wrong with her lips? Too much collagen, too many face lifts, something.

She makes friends while she is in Rome. She does this quite easily. You get the impression that she could live the rest of her life in Rome and be happy. At one point she tells her Danish friend that she shouldn't worry about a few extra pounds and she should just eat whatever she wants. Yeah, isn't it nice to hear a skinny actress say that? Of course by the end of her trip she is as skinny as she was at the start. On her last day there, she has an American Thanksgiving dinner with her friends and their family. The movie was boring up to this point, but the dinner just stops the movie dead.

The next segment of the movie finds her in India. She goes to work and live in an ashram. I guess she had enough of the touristy stuff in Italy and now she wants to work on the spiritual stuff. While she is there, she meets a Texan played by Richard Jenkins. Here the movie gets interesting for a bit, because Jenkins is so good. At first he only speaks to her in bumper sticker lingo, and he refers to Liz as Groceries (because he notices how much she likes to eat).

There is a scene where he tells Liz about his past and why he is there. This is probably the best performance I have seen Jenkins give, and after The Visitor, that is saying something.

Then she goes to Bali to study with that palm reader she met at the beginning. Here, she meets a Brazilian played by Javier Bardem. The scene where his son leaves to go back to college is maybe the best thing I have seen Bardem do.

Overall, the movie bored me to tears. There was at most 45 minutes of interesting story, good acting, and characters I cared about (mostly thanks to Jenkins and Bardem). The problem is the movie is 133 minutes.

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