DIRECTOR: Ryan Murphy
STARRING: Julia Roberts, Javier Bardem, Viola Davis and Billy Crudup.
AS a veteran A-lister, Julia Roberts has bagged an iconic female role roughly once a decade and it’s been a while since we’ve seen her as a leading lady.
Presumably her long-awaited return as the star of a film was to pick her next character wisely. Sadly, her former success as a strong, likeable underdog in films such as Pretty Woman and Erin Brockovich makes Eat Pray Love a bitter pill to swallow.
Based on the memoirs of a down-trodden divorcee who embarks on a journey of self-discovery, Elizabeth Gilbert’s travelogue is he stuff that spawned astronomical sales of her self-help book. The problem at the heart of the tale, however, is the world ‘self.’
In a film that plods past the two hour mark with interminable slowness, we watch as Elizabeth wakes up one night and decides she wants to divorce her feckless husband, then embarks on a rebound fling which leaves her more upset than the failure of her marriage.
Realising that she’s stuck in a rut, she uproots her life and leaves for Italy, where she learns how to consume huge portions of spaghetti and gesticulate wildly. Once she has battled her carbohydrate demon, she leaves for India to ‘get some peace,’ and meets a former alcoholic who picks on her until she masters the art of prayer.
Then it’s onto Bali, where she meditates with new-found serenity, helped in part, no doubt, by bedding a dishy Brazilian man (Javier Bardem), thus learning to ‘love’ again.
The problem that permeates each portion of her journey is the inescapable fact that this is Elizabeth’s story, in all of its painful detail. As interesting as it might be, in summary, between close friends over a pint, its sheer length and verbatim re-telling is not appropriate for the screen.
Self-discovery is exactly that and is only of compelling relevance to the person experiencing it and the issue is not helped by Roberts’ disappointingly standard acting.