I finally saw the movie version of Eat Pray Love on DVD this past weekend. I didn’t have high expectations since I never do of book-turned-movies. The movie was interesting enough to the average movie goer, but for someone who read the book and really connected with Elizabeth Gilbert‘s quirky, gabby, witty, thoughtful, evocative voice, I felt something seriously lacking.
Sure, the visuals were nice. India, Indonesia and Italy are beautiful landscapes so that was enjoyable to see. James Franco and Javier Bardem didn’t hurt either:)
Julia Roberts did her best to carry the story but I felt like the plot overtook her character, whereas in the book, “Liz” controlled the story and took the reader on this marvelous, introspective journey that captivated me. The movie lagged a lot and it was only because I was already a fan of the book that I stuck it through to see what happened. The background of Liz’s life and relationships were woven in at times during the movie but they still didn’t capture my emotions enough. It all started so quickly with her saying “I don’t want to be married anymore” and then whisked off to the divorce lawyers and her new boyfriend and traveling plans.
And where was the scene when she and her best friend are in the car driving and adding mental signatures of all the great people in the world for her divorce petition?? That was one of my favorite parts! Anyone with me?
Richard from Texas was perfect, but I wanted him in there more. I felt he hadn’t finished serving his purpose in the film, though he did make me tear up when he told Liz about his wife and son. His platitudes were great, but I noticed Liz’s dislike for the nickname “Groceries” was never brought up…
I know movie adaptations can’t be perfect, but I think there are certain books that can’t be made into movies very effectively. Wordy memoirs like Eat Pray Love are one of them. The fact that all I could picture while I was reading it was Liz sitting across from me talking proved that this wasn’t a cinematic story.
I know lots of people criticize Eat Pray Love is a superficial, narcissistic chick lit book about a frivolous middle-class woman with little problems. The movie kind of left me with that attitude, because you barely saw any conflict in Liz’s life. If you read the book, then you’ll know that’s far from the truth. The book touched me as a 17 -year-old high school student as Gilbert talked about desires for spirituality, loneliness, love, searching for purpose in life, happiness, courage over fears… I could go on and on about how much I related to it.
Maybe it’s a writer thing to be that cerebral and worried about everything little thing and want more in life, but it was a surprisingly interesting, quick read for me that left me pondering the kind of journey that I would want to take to address my personal needs. I’m certainly not old enough to be a memoir, but it definitely inspired me to give myself more chances to write personal essays and poetry rather than fiction. I think that if I’m afraid to talk about reality, then how can I justly immerse myself in fantasy? There are so many beautiful, haunting things to talk about in life that could help others going through the same experiences with just a few elegantly collected words.
Anyways, maybe a documentary like film would have worked better for Eat Pray Love. I don’t know. I think I will only be revisiting the story in book form, because that’s where it truly came alive to me.