Television shows, films, and stylish celebs have the power to influence theconsuming public. Mad Men, for example, brought back thin ties, white shirts and “modern fit two-button suits.”So will the new film based on Elizabeth Gilbert’sconfessional Eat Pray Love make many yearn for a week- or year-longstay in Bali? Scenes in the movie of that idyllic surrounding (since thedevastating bombing there), along with intense close-ups of star Julia Roberts devouring pasta (and roast turkey) in Rome arethe most appetizing moments in this cinematic turkey.
I don’t claim to be a movie reviewer (and I promise not to burdenyou with more such reviews in the future), but having been lured intothe film through its book cover turned poster, designed by Helen Yentus, I believe this fits into my Print mandate.
Far be it from me to challenge A.O. Scott, whose New York Times filmreviews are always astute, engaging and right on. But after sittingthrough an excruciatingly long string of self-indulgent cliches Icannot fathom why he wrote:
“Eat Pray Love, [is] a sumptuous and leisurely adaptation of Elizabeth Gilbert’s best-selling memoir of post-divorce globe-trotting. Directed by Ryan Murphy,who wrote the screenplay with Jennifer Salt, the film offers aneasygoing and generous blend of wish fulfillment, vicarious luxury, wryhumor and spiritual uplift, with a star, Julia Roberts, who elicits both envy and empathy.”
Roberts has always had an alluring smile, but herself-centered quest to find dramatic meaning and ultimate bliss wassuperficial at best, inexplicable at worst. First time film directorRyan Murphy, known for his direction of Nip/Tuck and Glee,which work nicely on the small 40″ TV screen, was either edited toomuch or not enough. There was absolutely no attempt to reveal Ms.Roberts’ motivation other than she felt disquieted by the Yuppie lifethat millions in the industrial and developing worlds would die for.What’s more, while Javier Bardem is so incredibly attractive that even Iwas taken by his come hither smile, he was more striking in WoodyAllen’s Vicky Christina Barcelona, where there was some inherent ironic complexity to his character. Murphy should have retained a pinch of his role in No Country for Old Menif only to provide a tad more tension than Roberts’ superficial “I lovehim, I love him not” dilemma on which the end of the film hinges.
If Bardem just once threatened her with his high-powered air gunwhen she summarily broke it off with him . . . well so much forromantic comedy!
“As the movie meanders through beautiful locations,grazing on scenery, flowers and food, it keeps circling back to theessential tension between Liz’s longing for independence and her desireto be loved,” adds Scott.
Perhaps if the screenplay of Gilbert’s one year trek to threecountries – Italy (eat), India (pray) and Indonesia (love) –agressively explored this longing rather than serve up “bumper stickerspeeches (one of the best lines from the book and film), the moviecould have lived up to the poster, which for me is the best thing aboutthe entire enterprise.
Actually, the perfume tie-ins (below) look pretty good too, ifyou cannot spend even a few days in Bali because, unlike Liz Gilbertyou can’t take time off work. According to Fresh, who makes it “The Eat fragrance is a sweet effervescent, the Pray is a woodsy spice, and the Love is a sunny floral.”
And if you missed Saturday’s post on Pablo Ferro, go here.