Sunday, 2 February 2014

Review: Eat, Pray, Love

We're already a month into the new year and if you're like me, most of your resolutions may have just dissipated into your usual habits. Do not despair though! Instead, let us look for inspiration in a film about travelling, spirituality and discovery - Eat, Pray, Love (2010)

Based on the best-selling memoir by Elizabeth Gilbert, the film stars Julia Roberts, along with James Franco, Viola Davis, Javier Bardem and many other fine actors. The film was directed by Ryan Murphy, who also co-wrote the screenplay along with Jennifer Salt - who have recently both been writing episodes of American Horror Story according to IMDb. 

The film follows Liz, a woman who realises she is unhappy in her marriage, and after a painful divorce and rebound relationship decides to go travelling for a year - living in Rome, India and finally Bali - in the hopes of discovering more about herself.

Now, I'm just going to dive in here and say my main problem with this film is it wasn't quite what I expected it be. I thought it was going to be an enlightening, life-affirming but jolly jaunt - basically feel-good fluff. 

Instead, the film is more serious - or at least takes itself more seriously than that - as the emotional journey of a woman who, frankly was possibly depressed, and decided to try and find herself through food, spirituality and love. 

Although I appreciate that this is based on a real person's experiences and this film is probably being honest in its emotions - but for me the film, and Julia Roberts, felt very muted, and the constant emotional stuff, honestly got a little depressing, with moments that could have been warmer, funnier and more uplifting lacking enegry and being dampened by the protagonist's lonely mood. 

For example, at the Thanksgiving meal where Elizabeth gives thanks for being around such happy people. The way she says it, looking at the lovestruck couples in the room, she seems wistful. 

Even the cinematography, though I enjoyed the realism and colour in bustling Naples and India, occasionally looks a little drained from time to time - the sunlight seems to appear to harsh and cold. Unlike say the warmth of To Rome With Love (2012)

Not that there weren't things I enjoyed about it the film. The settings are lovely, and there is some brilliant acting and quirky characters - my favourites being Felipe, Ketut and Richard. 

I also found learning bits and pieces about the different cultures in Rome and Bali fascinating - particularly the scene where the Italians talk about the concept of 'dolce far niente' or the sweetness of doing nothing. 

But in the end, the film was not as fun as I thought it would be, and left me feeling rather unsatisfied. 

In summary: Eat, Pray, Love is an interesting film, with some wonderfully quirky characters, that charts one woman's quite painful journey of self-discovery as travels for a year. Worth checking out at the least for the cultural titbits and the scenery, but its not as light-hearted as the pink boarder around the DVD cover suggests. 

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