As a study in nauseatingly indulgent self-absorption, it is difficult to compete with Eat Pray Love.
For all those who can only see the negative in their life, who are incapable of facing the challenges of adulthood and overcoming them, who cannot deal with the consequences of their own decisions, and who believe that running away is a good solution, the character of Elizabeth Gilbert (Julia Roberts) is quite the hero.
Based on the autobiographical book by the real Elizabeth Gilbert, the 134 minute movie proceeds at a pace that snails would find slow, and includes a lot of talk about finding "balance", defining your life with a single "word", and "loving yourself". There must be a large proportion of women who easily fall under the spell of such nonsensical psychobabble, and doubtless most of these same women find a lot of time to complain about their lives instead of using that time to find the happiness that comes with accountability.
Onto the story. After endless whining, Gilbert dumps her loving husband and her seemingly successful New York life to go look for herself. She first falls into the bed of the first guy she sets her eyes on before her divorce is even finalized, a struggling New York actor (James Franco).
Then she dumps him and embarks on a round-the-world trip. In Rome she eats pasta and pizza and meets some happy people. In India she worships the picture of a guru and meets a crusty Texan with a sob story to match her own. And in Bali she meets a toothless Yoda-like character who spouts warmed-over morsels of wisdom with the depth of stale fortune-cookies, and falls in love with a hunk from Brazil (Javier Bardem), but not before screaming at him that she does need to love him to prove that she loves herself. Perhaps nauseatingly indulgent self-absorption is too kind a description for Gilbert's journey.
The harsh truth is that almost everything that Gilbert does in Rome, India and Bali she could have easily done in New York City while keeping her marriage and life intact, if only she stopped complaining and got on with the business of living and finding pleasure and thanks in the life and luxuries that she had.
The only reason to keep watching Eat Pray Love is a good performance from Julia Roberts. She is several notches above the material, and her presence in the movie likely prevented mass walk-outs from the theatres. Otherwise the film tries, and fails, to find meaning in close-ups of pasta plates, endless scenes of meditation, and travel brochure scenery.
Rather that destroying your life and pressing the reset button, here is a quicker, much more economical way to find happiness: stop navel gazing, lift your head, face forward, recognize that life is a series of challenges and tackle them positively.
All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.