Eat Pray Love begins with the narrative voice of Julia Roberts, aka Liz Gilbert, describing how a friend is given the daunting task of counseling Cambodian war refugees who have suffered genocide, rape, starvation and more. She laments over how she was going to empathize and support people who had experience so far beyond her comprehension, but it turned out all they wanted to talk about was their love lives. In this we are all united, for love is the universal source of joy and suffering.
Eat Pray Love tells the story of Liz Gilbert’s journey around the world to escape and heal from the suffering love has brought her, and how she rediscovers all the joy that it can bring. As a professional writer, she took the premise of taking a year of her life to travel to Italy, India and Bali. In Italy, she spends four months indulging in food and her passion for the Italian language. India is where she experiences spiritual wrestling, working through her demons to find forgiveness and peace. Finally, she ends her time in Bali, where she learns to find balance between both living a life of passion and pleasure and having a spiritual foundation and knowing who you are.
As with most movies that are based off a well loved book, it can be hard to live up to the story created in the reader’s mind. Eat Pray Love does not fall too far from the mark. It is a satisfying rendition of the overall original premise. But, there is one small problem. Julia Roberts, God love her (and we all do), is just far too beautiful for such a role. Liz Gilbert’s book has a woman at the center whose heart, soul and humor makes us embrace her and cheer for her. Julia Roberts has hair, lips, eyes, limbs, etc. that make her harder to relate to, but that is alright. She still cuts the mustard. Add Javier Barden as her love interest and the acting is effective and very, very pretty.
The best part of Eat Pray Love is that it is not your typical love story. Yes, our heroine ends up with the perfect man who is the love of her life. However, the bigger story is that she has a love affair with herself. We may not all have the liberty to take a year to explore ourselves in beautiful locations around the world, and I am sure we would all love to. However, maybe we can still make the effort to find the beauty in our lives and the beauty in ourselves. All these darn self-help books do say that our greatest source of happiness is in extending ourselves kindness and love. I can work on that. However, if I had Julia Roberts’ hair, I may have an easier time. Darn that Hollywood!