Saturday, August 21, 2010

The BC Review: Eat Pray Love

Well, much to almost every woman's delight, it was finally released - the Hollywood version of Elizabeth Gilbert's engaging memoir, Eat Pray Love.

Starring one of the biggest Hollywood stars of her time, the lovely Julia Roberts, Eat Pray Love managed to please this reviewer. Indeed, it could not possibly compare to the book, but it did manage to provide a heart-warming story of a woman searching to re-discover herself after two failed relationships across three countries.

For those of you who haven't read the book, I HIGHLY recommend you do. I managed to pick it up at the recommendation of a friend in the publishing business (you know who you are!) and literally couldn't put it down for the duration of my honeymoon in St. Lucia. Yes, you read that right. I read the book while vacationing with my husband on our island honeymoon... it was THAT good!

But, for those of you who do not categorize yourselves as avid readers, the film is worthwhile (and perhaps more so for you as the film cannot compare to the written word).

I will hold back from telling you too much about the plot, but will say it is an adventure across three very distinct and unique countries: Italy, India, and Bali.

Julia plays Elizabeth with class and style (which in this case actually is a dissapointment). I am in agreement with other reviewers in that, Julia would not have been my first pick for this role. But she does an OK job (not great, but far from terrible). In short, the real Elizabeth is tired, beaten by the world, and frankly, down-right frompy. This should come as a surprise to no one, Julia lacks a certain "frompiness"!

The best parts of the book (namely, the FOOD she indulges in while embarking on a "no carb left behind diet" in Italy) are successfully portrayed in the film, as is the oppressive heat of India (trust me, it is HOT and HUMID there) and the breathtaking island views from her home in Bali.

A self-professed travel bug myself, Gilbert's story makes me want to hop on the next plane and embark on my own globe-trotting adventure! She illustrates with searing accuracy the feeling all travelers can relate to. That is, when one travels alone overseas, you often find yourself open to new experiences and people who you otherwise would never have engaged with at home in the States. It's almost like everyone who is traveling is on an adventure together. No one is alone, everyone is friends, and everyone (as corny as this may sound) is living an out-of-body experience. In the film, we manage to get a taste of this - but as I mentioned, nothing can really compare to the book (or of course, the actual experience of traveling!).

The film does succeed in showing us these three countries in a somewhat realistic light (although, as can be expected, it is somewhat "Hollywood-ized"). But expect to see some beautiful (and not-so-beautiful) sites in Italy (namely, the crazed streets of Naples) and India (the traffic scenes and poverty-stricken street urchins bring back memories of my trips to Delhi).

As an added bonus, in the film we are treated to the rugged good looks of Javier Bardem as Elizabeth's Bali-based latin lover, Felipe. Bardem plays the role exceedingly well; authentically portraying a man looking to rebuild his life after a painful divorce. I for one, am I big fan of Bardem (see No Country for Old Men and Love in the Time of Cholera). Hopefully this role signals his intention for more roles in the not-so-distant future.

Overall, the film is delightful and if nothing else, illustrates the beauty of three very distinct countries: Italy, India, and Bali.

Eat Pray Love is recommended for those with a passion for travel and a love of food!

The Bee Charmer Review Rating: B