I saw Eat Pray Love last night. Assuming you’ve heard about the movie starring Julia Roberts and might know it’s based on a the best seller Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, let’s imagine we are sitting at a local tavern drinking beer after the movie and that you look suspiciously like my friend who went with me.
The movie is as glossy and as well constructed as the book where Gilbert details her experiences and journey of self-awareness over a one-year period in Italy, India and Indonesia.
Although Julia Roberts is well cast as Elizabeth Gilbert, I felt as I do in most of Robert’s films, she was playing a slightly different version of herself. They also knocked about 25 years off Gilbert’s real life husband Felipe by casting Javier Bardem. I’m all for it. He makes my socks go up-n-down. My friend said he’s smoldering. All in all, Javier is a win for the flick.
One of my issues with the book was knowing she would receive a book deal out of her experience. She is a successful magazine, non-fiction and short story writer. I guess my annoyance was that while she searched for inner-peace and spent quality time in these glorious countries, she ultimately knew she was crafting a product she could milk for future profit. Having said that, she has a great voice on paper. You feel for her and her self-deprecation even if it is self involved. In the movie, I questioned the source of her pain and how she dug herself out since it did not touch on her depression as intensely as the book. I mean she’s a single, financially independent woman with no attachments. Yet, all previous relationships were failures until the end of the book. Even though Ms. Gilbert did find love in Bali with her now husband Felipe, I found the third portion to be as contrived and predictable as a Disney movie. I always wondered why she allowed herself to fall in love with Felipe when she had such failure with her first husband. I guess I have to read her sequel Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage.
As a friend of mine said in the book, Gilbert has many “Come to Jesus,” moments, although in Gilbert’s case, it is more a, “Come to Ganesh moment.” If you abandon the material objects and people that weigh you down in your life, and learn to quiet your mind, you somehow come away from the experience lighter and more at peace with yourself. The book and movie remind me of Siddhartha but for the Sex And The City woman of today. For Gilbert, this philosophy works. However, for many in her audience, the idea of taking off on a year of self-discovery is about as realistic as finding love at the end of the book and getting a movie made out of your experience.
I’ve heard that women take tours of locations and restaurants mentioned in Eat Pray Love. That they seek out the same people Gilbert met and they literally follow Gilbert’s path. This really bother’s me because it was after all, her journey. Why not use Gilbert’s experiences to inspire instead of mimic?
Whether I was reading the book, or watching the movie, I do believe Gilbert was despondent and depressed, and I feel for her. The impact of her book makes it clear she is not alone. To me, her story is about taking responsibility for her mistakes, accepting her imperfections, and living life peacefully with that gained acceptance. She was just able to articulate her issues with a cleverness and voice better than most people.