On Eat, Pray, Love
It was an audience full of Oprah. It was over two excruciating hours. It was a lot of Julia Roberts charm and sparkle. But not even she could make it work.
I still find her irresistibly watchable. She lights it up like few others. She overpowers you with her... Julia Robertsness. And still EPL seemed so forced, so predictable, so Chicken Soup and dancing with your eyes closed on a subway station platform if that’s what moves you. And on a personal level, I just can’t FEEL when I’m being forced to FEEL. Even her trademark goose honk of a laugh seemed like an arbitrary insert as a box to be checked off on a list of Roberts pre-requisites.
It took forever to get to Eat. And when the eating eventually arrived, there didn’t seem to be enough food. And when there was food, why only a park bench ice cream? Why spaghetti with tomatoes? Why a scene gorging on pizza in Naples with a girlfriend complaining about tight jeans and muffin tops only to follow that up with a session buying new pants when the pants were still TOO F-CKING SMALL?
As my friend Michelle pointed out, via Duana, if the point was liberation from being held hostage by models and magazines, they essentially negated it in a stereotypical episode about two women struggling on a change room floor to squeeze themselves into a pair of trousers than were a size too small. They were supposed to just go and BUY A BIGGER OPTION.
That sh-t was supposed to be for humour. It ended up undermining the message. And what is the message? To seek truth within yourself. I guess. Which brings us to the Pray. And the Pray is about forgiveness, or something, in service of getting us to Love, when is where we’re all supposed to be...
Standing at the end goal of it all is the perfect man Javier Bardem. He really is wonderful in this role. SO SO SO good. So much better than her ex husband Billy Crudup (he did a good job) and her ex boyfriend James Franco (he was ok too). Because when you’re ready to find what’s in you, your reward for the exercise is not actualisation but a proper relationship...?
I can’t speak to whether or not this is what the book means, but I can tell you that that is what I took the movie to mean. Which is, it can be argued, a fundamentally ME ME ME way of living. And if you want to call that a one dimensional way of looking at it, well it’s probably about as one dimensional as going to India and meeting a young girl who’s forced into arranged marriage and how much that sucks, while negating the cultural honour of doing right by your family. It’s certainly not the way I would want to live, no, but I’m also tired of not allowing the judging as an avenue that moves two ways. The Self Love Method that we’ve been talk-showed into espousing must have its downside too, non?
Beyond the philosophical debate however, on the merits of filmmaking, EPL is simply an exercise in weak, vain direction. The best example of this can be found in the interaction between Roberts and Ketut, the Balinese medicine man who is cute and lovely enough on his own, without the constant panning to Julia’s glowing face and big teeth, tears welling up in her eyes every time they talk, a tactic as tacky as pointing to him at a zoo, imploring us to “look at the adorable little Asian man with no teeth!” It’s not only insulting, it’s borderline offensive. Maybe not as much as Sex & the City 2 but certainly a huge disappointment.
Here’s Julia arriving in Japan to promote the film overseas.
Photos from Scott Larson/Splashnewsonline.com