Thursday, August 26, 2010

Eat Pray Love (2010)

Eat. Pray. Like.

I have to admit that as a movie fanatic, I cringe every time I hear someone say that the book is better than the movie. It just sounds so snooty. So when I sat down to write this review, I tried (and deleted) many ways to go around it. I did not succeed. It is what it is: the book was better than the movie.

In the highly anticipated adaptation of Eat. Pray. Love., Liz (Julia Roberts) goes on a journey to search for pieces of her that she feels are missing. Despite her booming career, a husband that loves her, and humble good looks, Liz does not feel "whole." Her search takes her on a journey to Italy (Eat), India (Pray), and Indonesia (Love). By the end of the book and the movie, Liz has found what she is seeking and sails off into the sunset with her lover. But don't brush it off as a "chick flick" (yet another cringe-worthy term). This ending might sound trite and obvious, but that's okay. This story is truly about the journey, not just the destination. The destination is dessert, the journey is the meal.

What is so beautiful about this story (and shows in her manuscript) is Liz's inquisitiveness. She looks to people, language, landscapes, a higher power, food, and anything else that's on her path to find any clues that might lead to happiness. Thus, the journey is filled with characters, lessons, and surprises. She uses a modern, Socratic method to find an answer to a simple question in a complicated world: what is happiness? The movie captures this aspect of Liz, not only in her (gasp) voice-over passages from the book, but also in allowing us to see what she sees. We get to see that in the chaos of Italy there is love and life; in the poverty of India there is hope and light; and in the exotic, beautiful shores of Indonesia there is pain and celebration. To the director's credit (Ryan Murphy), the movie was filmed on location, all locations, and it shows. The views of these cities are not only breathtaking, but also telling.

Other than switching up the order of some of the scenes and editing out some dialogue, the movie does not stray from the book. Which begs the question: why make the movie? The only answer I could come up with is money. The movie doesn't take any chances to interpret the book or to add anything to it. It just takes a beloved book and adds a beloved actress. This equals to great office box success, but artistically it falls flat. Yes, it's beautifully shot and the actors are also, well, beautiful, but we're basically watching them recite a great book in scenic locations. If you respect the book too much too change anything than really why remake it? Perhaps if it did take a chance, it would upset a lot of people. I get that. But I say, upset people, surprise people, change the title, anything besides repeating what has already been done and done so well. And I'm cringing again.

1 comment:

Julio Sporer said...

I have a copy of “Eat, Pray, Love,” and reading it was an amazing experience for me. I learned so much about loving yourself more before loving everyone else. I’m not exactly in the same boat as the protagonist, but her quest to find love while traveling around the world is something I can relate with to a certain extent. The book made me realize that love is not just a feeling, but it’s about giving it to get some in return. It’s definitely a masterpiece!

Julio Sporer

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