That broader context cannot be removed from scrutiny of the film itself.  Indeed, the only "enlightening" thing about this movie is to also acknowledge the huge cottage industry behind it.  Timed with the theatrical release is a marketing juggernaut of mammoth proportions.  You may not be able to leave your husband and see the world, but if you buy enough of EPL tie-ins, perfumes, jewelry, clothes, trinkets, baubles and whatever else, well, you can reach the same epiphany. 

Ah, nothing so nurturing as vicarious capitalism, right?  Hey, I'm all for making an honest buck; it's the hypocritical ones that rub me the wrong way.  For a movie (and book) that's core theme is the emptiness of our materialistic American lives (while every other culture has "inner peace" all figured out in their own ways, apparently), the merchandise invasion it has spawned can only be judged a fraud as it peddles the very thing it condemns—all the way to the bank!

It'd be easy to dismiss all this as just another example of the Liberal Elite's love affair with Hinduism, Buddhism, and all forms of Eastern meditation that are self-affirming, requiring nothing, if not for the coast-to-coast fascination with this philosophical claptrap.  It speaks to the desire to find "balance," I guess, which is a particular obsession of Liz's—but even the wisdom offered on that front feels improvised. 

The struggle to achieve balance, for example, also includes embracing things that cause us to lose balance, because losing balance will ultimately help us to achieve balance.  Well, so long as it's something like "love" that causes us to lose balance.  If it's commitments and responsibilities to a good spouse that would do anything to save the marriage, well then by all means run from that.  That must be one of those bad ways to lose balance in order to achieve balance.

Enduring this experience, which evolved from annoyance to exasperation, I couldn't help but think of a particularly pointed insight by C.S. Lewis:

"Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in."

Eat Pray Love is the complete antithesis of that worldview.

Narcissism is not the path to self-fulfillment.  It's not "courageous" to run from your problems and reboot your privileged life (despite what those rich, sophisticated Italians might claim!).  But hey, who am I to say?  She's the one who ended up with a sexy, passionate Brazilian, not me.

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol Content:  A reference is made to getting "baked."  Wine is consumed.
  • Language/Profanity:  Occasional "s" words, one use of the "f" word, and on use of God's name in vain.
  • Sexual Content/Nudity:  Couples lay together in bed, but do not have sex (though it is implied/assumed).  References to having sex.  A few passionate kisses.  One scene with male rear nudity.
  • Violence/Other:  None.



Jeffrey Huston is a film director, writer and producer at Steelehouse Productions in Tulsa, Okla.  He is also cohost of "Steelehouse Podcast," along with Steelehouse Executive Creative Mark Steele, where each week they discuss God in pop culture. 

To listen to the weekly podcast, please visit www.steelehouse.com
or click here.  You can also subscribe to "Steelehouse Podcast" through iTunes.