I saw Eat, Pray, Love this past weekend, and it made me hungry—for Italian food, for marvelous life, and for Javier Bardem. I read the book when it first came out, so I knew it was a memoir by Elizabeth Gilbert, about Elizabeth Gilbert. I very much related to the book, so I was interested (and a little defensive, maybe) to see how casting would work out.
Julie Roberts, I was okay with, although I hadn’t see her in anything I’d particularly enjoyed in years. Billy Crudup as her ex-husband? Perfect. Richard Jenkins as Richard? Excellent. Javier Bardem as Felipe? Urg … um … that guy with the creepy hair from No Country for Old Men? Urg … what?
Apologies. I’m getting ahead of myself.
Eat, Pray, Love is the memoir of “Liz” Gilbert. Liz has everything a modern woman is supposed to dream of having—a husband, a house, a successful career—yet she finds herself lost, confused, and searching for what she really wants in life. Following her heart-breaking and messy divorce, Liz has an affair with a younger man, David. She begins to dress like David, think like David, eat like David … she comes to realize that whenever she is in a relationship, she soaks up the personality of her mate. For years, she has been a woman with no identity, and upon this realization, Liz goes numb. She feels nothing, and in order to feel again, she decides to break free of her comfort zone and leave the U.S. for a year. In that year, she will visit Italy, India, and Bali. Hence, “eat, pray, love.”
Julia Roberts looks amazing in this movie. Whatever she’s eating and putting on her skin at night, I want it. Liz’s interior dialogue is priceless. She thinks about a lot of things I think about, which is again, why I so thoroughly related to Eat, Pray, Love, in book form. Bill Crudup, cast as her emotional ex-husband, did nothing but look teary in an elevator at one point, and it made me sob. Richard Jenkins, telling his own story of loss and despair, similarly had me biting the inside of my lip to stop from crumbling to the floor in tears. And as I mentioned, Javier Bardem, as her love interest in Bali, was sexy and utterly charming. (Where the heck did that come from? He is perfect as a creepy dude; now, I believe he’s perfect as a romantic lead, as well.)
The beautiful locations made me want to pack my bags and leave town. In the film, Liz wants to “marvel at something.” There is plenty of marveling, for Liz and the audience. Each location has its own charm, and the director does a good job of changing the tempo to further illuminate the heightened cultural differences between, say, Italy and India. The music was all over the map—highlighted by Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold” and “Harvest Moon” (which again, made me get all emotional)—plus a score like a 1960s romance flick.
What I’m trying to say: Eat, Pray, Love is an emotional flick. There are at least a dozen gems hidden from scene to scene—lessons to live by, similar to what I learned while reading the book. Generally, this is a movie about SLOWING DOWN. It starts in Italy, when the Italians talk about “the art of doing nothing.” It moves on when Liz heads to India, where she learns to control her thoughts, empty her mind, and FOCUS on what’s important.
Then, in Bali, the real message of Eat, Pray, Love: we ultimately learn and grow through our human relationships. Regretting past relationships is pointless. Everywhere we have been (and everyone we’ve met) has helped us to become the people we are today. If we would have avoided that past pain, our lives would have been changed for the worst, because we never would have learned that lesson, persevered, and become stronger.
On a personal level, Eat, Pray, Love reminded me to marvel again: at the palm trees, at the sky, at the taste of Jake’s cooking. It made me want to take up meditation so that I can become more focused with a quieter mind and increased peace. It taught me that I must stop regretting the past, because everything I have ever done has led me here, to who I am today. Finally, Eat, Pray, Love made me realize that we’re all spiritual gurus—that we learn the meaning and importance of life through each other.
Eat, Pray, Love is a peaceful movie that’ll make you laugh but will also make you cry. I would suggest seeing it … yes, even if you’re a dude.