“It’s the story of a woman’s personal journey, and all the men are incidental to the story,” I explained. “Oh, just like in real life,” he replied. He was joking, of course. But when this very long film ended, he turned to me before leaving the theater and said, “I feel like I’ve been abused.” And, clearly, no joke was intended. What follows is my recollection of our conversation while driving home after the movie.
ME: Honey, I think you felt abused because you were one of only three guys in the audience today.
HIM: It’s not that. I had no sympathy for the character Julia Roberts played. Would you want her for a friend?
ME: That’s not the point of the movie, dear. It’s about a woman’s search for balance and a relationship with God. I suspect that kind of thing means more to women than men.
HIM: Balance? She had a nice husband and a good job, I call that balance. She didn’t need to traipse all over Italy and India and Bali to get “balanced.”
ME: But this is a true story about Elizabeth Gilbert, who went on such a journey, and the film shows how it changed her.
HIM: Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn! It’s no fun watching someone so self-involved for over two hours -- and I have no idea what women want anymore after seeing this ridiculous movie.
Unfortunately, I have to admit my husband made some good points about EAT PRAY LOVE. The film doesn’t do justice to Gilbert’s richly textured memoir. It’s another example of how difficult it must be to adapt certain books for the screen. Remember Time Traveler’s Wife and The Lovely Bones?
Still, Roberts continues to be one of our finest actresses, and she makes this film less tedious than it could have been. The gorgeous settings also help -- as well as the yummy Italian spaghetti shots. And the “incidental” men in the movie -- Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men), Billy Crudup (Watchmen) Richard Jenkins (The Visitor), James Franco (The Great Raid), and Hadi Subiyanto -- liven things up a bit, so it’s not a total disaster.
I have no doubt that many female viewers will enjoy EAT PRAY LOVE.
(Released by Columbia Pictures and rated “PG-13” on appeal for brief strong language, some sexual references and male rear nudity.)
Review also posted on ReelTalk Movie Reviews.