Eat, Pray, Nip, Tuck
Television shows, films, and stylish celebs have the power to influence the consuming 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’s confessional Eat Pray Love make many yearn for a week- or year-long stay in Bali? Scenes in the movie of that idyllic surrounding (since the devastating bombing there), along with intense close-ups of star Julia Roberts devouring pasta (and roast turkey) in Rome are the most appetizing moments in this cinematic turkey.
I don’t claim to be a movie reviewer (and I promise not to burden you with more such reviews in the future), but having been lured into the 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 film reviews are always astute, engaging and right on. But after sitting through an excruciatingly long string of self-indulgent cliches I cannot 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 an easygoing and generous blend of wish fulfillment, vicarious luxury, wry humor and spiritual uplift, with a star, Julia Roberts, who elicits both envy and empathy.”
Roberts has always had an alluring smile, but her self-centered quest to find dramatic meaning and ultimate bliss was superficial at best, inexplicable at worst. First time film director Ryan Murphy, known for his direction of Nip/Tuck and Glee, which work nicely on the small 40″ TV screen, was either edited too much or not enough. There was absolutely no attempt to reveal Ms. Roberts’ motivation other than she felt disquieted by the Yuppie life that millions in the industrial and developing worlds would die for. What’s more, while Javier Bardem is so incredibly attractive that even I was taken by his come hither smile, he was more striking in Woody Allen’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 Men if only to provide a tad more tension than Roberts’ superficial “I love him, I love him not” dilemma on which the end of the film hinges.
If Bardem just once threatened her with his high-powered air gun when she summarily broke it off with him . . . well so much for romantic comedy!
“As the movie meanders through beautiful locations, grazing on scenery, flowers and food, it keeps circling back to the essential tension between Liz’s longing for independence and her desire to be loved,” adds Scott.
Perhaps if the screenplay of Gilbert’s one year trek to three countries – Italy (eat), India (pray) and Indonesia (love) – agressively explored this longing rather than serve up “bumper sticker speeches (one of the best lines from the book and film), the movie could have lived up to the poster, which for me is the best thing about the entire enterprise.
Actually, the perfume tie-ins (below) look pretty good too, if you cannot spend even a few days in Bali because, unlike Liz Gilbert you 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.