Eat Pray Love (Review)

Julia Roberts-led book adaptation is a missed opportunity

During a summer season that has given us a duplicitous warrior woman (Salt), a normal teen girl torn between two monstrous lovers (Twilight: Eclipse) and the rise of The Girl (Stieg Larsson’s Millenium Trilogy and the serialized adaptations), the end arrives and its time for us to settle down for a more relaxed, meditative film heroine.

Enter Liz Gilbert (Julia Roberts), travel writer and recently divorced woman in search of the real Liz Gilbert. Liz has traveled the globe (49 stamps in her passport, thank you very much) but always explored the same terrain: the undiscovered lands of the female heart. After the breakup of her marriage, Liz devotes one year to eating (in Italy) with abandon, praying (in India) with a seeker’s fervor for enlightenment and forgiveness and loving (in Bali) in such a way that she might find true balance.

The adventure kicks off gamely as Liz eats with no sense of fear or loathing when it comes to body image. Unfortunately, as Liz continues her treks on for prayer and love and meets up with the likes of Richard Jenkins (who steals the show with his performance as a soul searcher in India) and Javier Bardem (the gentle lover in Bali), we begin to see the film as a series of missed opportunities: a great cast that's largely wasted, exotic locales that never achieve travelogue status and a journey that ends with no sense of enlightenment.

Eat Pray Love, the title, promises progressive movement, but the film reminded me of an epic car trip that stalled because the keys were lost at the first rest stop. Grade: C-

Opens Aug. 13. Check out theaters and show times, see the trailer and get theater details here.
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