“Eat Pray Love”: Boring, Boring, an Elephant With Mange
Here are the five main reasons for which I did not like the movie Eat Pray Love.
1. The Julia Roberts character was unlikable. It makes perfect emotional sense for Liz (Julia Roberts) to go find herself by eating in Italy, praying in India, and loving in Bali. (For the record, Liz eats very little in India or Bali; prays once at her home in New York, not at all in Italy, and meditates a lot in both India and Balil; and loves a little in Italy, none in India, and a lot in Bali.) What doesn't make sense is why we're given zero reason to care about Elizabeth. First she divorces her husband (Billy Crudup), for no apparent reason beyond that he's not sure how to hold a baby and hasn't chosen a permanent career (a fact that doesn't seem to have hurt the couple any financially). She then initiates a relationship with a boy-toy actor (James Franco), who is fourteen-years her junior, with whom she then breaks up in order to embark on her One Nation, One Function tour. Her husband seemed like an honorable, likable man with whom she simply grew bored, and she barely knew James Franco—whom she confided to her friend she didn't take seriously. And those are the two broken relationships over which she spends the rest of the movie being teary-eyed and heartbroken. It's like someone purposefully destroying their house with a ball wrecker, and then relentlessly pining over what a great house they used to have. And if you take from the character of Liz the heartache that she feels over the relationships that she ruined—if you lose that as the reason for which she's forever choking up and gazing wistfully into the middle-distance—and all you've got left is someone with an apparently uncanny gift for renting extraordinary properties overseas who (in the film's ongoing voice-over, anyway) talks in bumper-stickers.
2. All the side characters are cliches. The soulful, wise black female friend. The handsome and soulful Italian paramour (that we're given to understand wants Elizabeth—and she him—before he's suddenly and inexplicable involved instead with the new best friend Liz has made in Italy, but whatever). The wise old Italian mama(s). The giggling, toothless, wizened old Asian man. The soulful, handsome Brazilian man who cooks, reads, loves, laughs and lives in a huge, richly appointed house on the beach. I wish before this movie had gotten underway I'd had the good sense to invest in Central Casting, Inc.
3. Not enough India. It was as if, having shot the lavish, Rome-encompassing first third the film, its producers realized the movie was critically over-budget. Their solution? Film all the India stuff indoors. On one set (being an ashram). And instead of a regular, expensive elephant, hiring one with a skin condition. I wanted to see more India. Not to mention a mange-free elephant.
4. It's excruciatingly boring to watch someone meditate. Once you've moved the camera in a circle around Julia Roberts sitting cross-legged meditating, what else can be done to render that moment interesting? Apparently nothing. So instead, the director just holds the great many shots we get of Julia sitting perfectly still with her eyes closed. And if you see this movie, that's what you'll be doing, too. Except you'll be snoring.
5. They took the commas out of the title. Hey, man, I care about these things. Okay, I don't. I just thought a list of four complaints was lame.