There’s no debating it, summer is the best season for movies. We may not get many Oscar contenders, but we get Hollywood’s best attempts at delivering action, humor and fun. Being the last major movie week of the summer, we’re closing out with a bang. The Expendables and Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World are tearing up screens with all types of awesome, so what better movie to pit against those juggernauts than Eat Pray Love? Working as counter programming to the manliest and geekiest movies of the summer, Julia Roberts’ latest star vehicle is, as expected, a girly movie through and through.
Based on the best selling book by author Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Pray Love tells the story of Liz (Roberts) as she works her way through a divorce and across the globe in an attempt to find what her life has been missing. Right off the bat, there’s a problem. You see, the divorce is her idea and she springs the idea suddenly on her husband Stephen (Billy Crudup), who loves her more than anything in the world. During the divorce settlement, Stephen asks Liz why she is leaving. Why couldn’t she just come talk to him? She replies with a quick tongue, arguing that she tried. He just wouldn’t listen. But we never see her try. We’re simply supposed to take her word for it. But Stephen brings up a good point. She’s so concerned with herself that she never even attempts to make the marriage work. While I’m not suggesting she should stay in a relationship she is unhappy with, her sudden decision to end the marriage without even first discussing it with her husband comes off as selfish and mean.
So off she goes around the world to discover herself. Along the way, she befriends a number of people in similar situations, including Richard (wonderfully played by Richard Jenkins) and a kind sage who accurately predicts her coming trials. But once she arrives at her first destination, Rome, Italy, she seems to do little more than wallow in self pity about being alone. She has an Italian to English dictionary and looks up words like “lonely.” When she sees a pretty dress and a friend tells her to buy it, she replies, “For whom?” The perplexity of the situation is that she broke off her marriage with a man who loved her unconditionally so she could be alone and then gets depressed that she has nobody to spend her time with. Her problem is self inflicted and I had no pity for her.
The biggest problem with Eat Pray Love, worse than its unlikable protagonist, is its awkward pacing and sluggishness. While some portions of the story, like the beginning, are rushed through, hence giving no reason to care, others are drawn out to an unbearable extent. Pushing nearly two hours and fifteen minutes, the film is far too long.
However, there is beauty seeping out of every pore of Eat Pray Love. The people, the food, the locales, all are great to look at, though that I’d chalk that up more to the natural presentation of those things than the direction. Any schmo can point a camera at Italy and make it look beautiful.
Still, Eat Pray Love is light, fluffy entertainment. It’s hard to hate, but it bores with ease. The monotony of the script and the dullness of the messages dilute any type of impact it may have had otherwise. Watching it was a chore and writing this review was the same. It’s tough to drag out “it was boring” to six paragraphs, but here it is. It was a hard fought battle and in the end I survived, but I pity those men who bravely walk into this movie ready to endure it for their loved ones. Their dedication is noble, but I’m afraid their integrity may suffer.
Eat Pray Love receives 2/5