Movie Review: Eat Pray Love

My brother won tickets to an advance screening of a new movie, and he was kind enough to offer them to his mother and little sister. Awwww. What a nice guy.

Except the movie being previewed was Eat Pray Love.

Oh. Well, he’s still a pretty nice guy, I guess.

So now that I’ve watched Julia-Roberts-as-Elizabeth-Gilbert prance self-centeredly through crowds of foreigners trying to find herself, what do I think? Here’s my brief summary of Eat, Pray Love, as reported on my Twitter feed:

Hi! I’m an upper middle class white woman who doesn’t like her husband. I’m going to let a bunch of cute people with accents change my life. Fix me, brown people! Your poverty & inability to escape your problems centers me. Me. Meeeee. MEEEEEEEEEEE! Now I’m centered. I’m going to go marry Javier Bardem.

Of course that leaves out all kinds of things. Like the fact that Gilbert (as portrayed by Roberts) is a self-involved angsty shrew, but everybody adores her anyway, immediately, and sometimes even after she’s opened her mouth and actually said things. (I found this unbelievable.) And the fact that the whole film pays homage to the Benevolent White Lady trope, wherein a Benevolent White Lady goes to another country/depressed neighborhood and makes all the sad foreign people/underprivileged youth happy with her inherent White Lady goodness. (See: Gilbert fixes an arranged marriage in crisis! Gilbert and all her yuppie friends buy a poor Indonesian lady a house!)

I hate movies like this. Not because they’re supposed to be inspiring or heartwarming or whatever, but because I hate what they inspire in people, namely gross selfishness. You might think going off to Rome, India, and Bali to find yourself sounds cool (I know I do), but what person with real problems can afford to drop out of their lives for an entire year? What person with real ties to the real world can leave their friends and family, their bills, their job, and their responsibilities to meditate for hours and shriek at Brazillian men on a beach because, goshdarnit, they’re just so lovable and they don’t know how to handle it.

We’re supposed to believe that Gilbert had to lose everything in order to jumpstart her journey of self-discovery, but anyone who’s ever truly been poor (I mean eating-ramen-noodles-over-the-sink poor) will quickly wonder how a woman who “lost everything” could afford three international plane tickets plus money for accommodations, food, sightseeing, and new “big lady pants”. So did she metaphorically lose everything? Because from what I saw, she divorced a guy she didn’t want to be married to anymore.

These are the kinds of movies that appeal to upper middle class white women like movie-Gilbert (I refuse to believe Elizabeth Gilbert is a real person) because it’s tempting to see shallow concerns and mild personality disorders as Real Problems. Gilbert had money, friends, and a career, but she still felt empty. Instead of spending a little more time paying attention to all of the other people who still seem to care about her, she decides to take a year for herself. Because nothing cures narcissism like a journey of self-discovery. I vomit into my neighbor’s popcorn bucket.

Along the way, the film tries to touch on some real problems. Movie-Gilbert laments that she’s been dating or breaking up with men since she was 15. And on her trip, she laments the fact that everyone she meets says she needs a husband. Of course, at the end, she hooks up with Javier Bardem. You go girl! And there are all kinds of half-hearted attempts at meaningful explorations of pain, loss, letting go, loving, and opening yourself up to change, but when Gilbert accuses a man at an ashram of speaking in bumper sticker slogans, she might actually be speaking to the screenwriter.

People are losing their homes, their jobs, their health, their sense of security. Some people who will see commercials for this film are literally losing everything. So, despite the fact that movies (and books) like Eat Pray Love are a slap in the face to folks with real shit to worry about and people who actually deserve a vacation, stuff like this will probably be repackaged and resold for as long as there’s a talk show host to hock this kind of empty inspirational garbage to mildly disappointed women of privilege. I vomit into my own popcorn bucket.

168 responses to “Movie Review: Eat Pray Love

  1. I LOVE YOU SO MUCH RIGHT NOW.

    • Bwahahahahahaha. I love you too.

    • I loved this…I thought you did a great job reviewing it and it was entertaining to read.

    • A Word From Mars

      You did a great job on this post. And you mentioned something I think everytime I see a book or watch a movie with that theme (giving up everything to travel and find oneself), it never is a person who is truly financially poor getting to do this. I heard a interview with the author of the book and I kept thinking, “How the hell did you afford to do this?”

      • She could afford it b/c she was already an established writer who received an advance from her publisher. It was her intent all along to write, so they fronted the money. Sounds like she did a hell of a pitch job.

  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention Movie Review: Eat Pray Love | -- Topsy.com

  3. You go, girl! Just seeing the ad of Julia Roberts sitting there coyly sucking on a spoon was enough to make me want to pass on this flick.

  4. ::golf clap:: great post.

  5. I knew enough about the book’s promotion of self-absorption that I didn’t want to read it and will do the same with the movie. The success of this book is yet another example of the sorry state of book publishing in the U.S.

    http://www.wordsfromawoman.wordpress.com

    • You are a much smarter person than I am. *grin*

    • “sorry state of book publishing” Glad to know that I’m not the only one who thinks so. I’m pretty sure that even *I* could publish a book these days based on some of the crap that I see on the bookshelves. Terribly sad

  6. Wow…you didn’t hold back at all…I like it!! I always say you cannot find yourself by running away from your problems. It is most important to find yourself in your everyday life, because, after all, that’s where you will be most of the time. I know people love movies and stories about self discovery and going off and finding yourself. But, look in the mirror and you can see yourself very well. I thought this movie would be similar to how you described it…so I won’t be seeing that one. :-)

    http://www.wutevs.wordpress.com

    • Yeah, I’m sort of in touch with my feelings that way. When I love something, I will sing its praises from the rooftops. When I DON’T love something, whoever made it might as well have punched my mom or something.

  7. Wow! One not to watch then I guess. I’ll scrub that off my list.

    How about Dispicable Me – that fits more with the troubles of today. :)

    • I haven’t seen Despicable Me yet. Do you recommend it?

      • I don’t really know your taste, but I loved what you had to say about Eat Pray Love and selfish re-discovery. Judging from this post, I’m going to have to un-recommend Despicable Me. Sounds like Tulum was being a little sarcastic, because Despicable Me’s troubles are…unrealistic, for the most part. (: Thanks for the enlightening review!

      • Ah-ha. Sometimes sarcam can be difficult to judge online. (Also, me no think good sometimes.)

        Thanks for the comment! I love writing these reviews whether or not anybody reads them (and before today, almost nobody did), but I’m loving all the great feedback.

  8. I was so subliminally commercialized, that I missed this perspective. Awesomeness!

    • Hey, I can see that. I won’t say it didn’t make me want to visit Italy and Bali (I’ve never really wanted to visit India. Nothing against it or anything. I’d probably visit if a friend wanted to go or something.), and all that Italian food made me want to jump up and lick the screen. I think I’m just the kind of person who notices stuff like what I mentioned in the review. One of my best friends is the kind of person who just enjoys things–books, films, shows–and doesn’t nitpick like I do. Sometimes I think she got the better deal when they were passing out characteristics.

  9. I was told the book was shit. So I haven’t read it. I’d hoped maybe Julia Roberts would have used some of her own personal charm to make the Hollywood version better. But it doesn’t sound like it. Boo.

    • I don’t actually dislike Julia Roberts, so, while I didn’t expect to like this movie, I thought Roberts might lend some charm to it. There are some sort-of funny moments (mostly when Gilbert is in Italy), but… Well, already read what I thought of it, so I’ll spare you a rehash. *laughs*

  10. I don’t know you but I love you too! My brother (yes, my brother!) raved about this book for months after his wife gave it to him and I wanted to vomit every time he mentioned it. When I heard the movie was being made it made me want to vomit in a popcorn bucket!

    • Eheheheheheh… I’ll take love where I can get it. Even small popcorn buckets are the size of Volkswagon these days, so you can share mine. *grin*

  11. Right on sister! That’s what I thought when I read the book. The movie sounds truly wretch worthy. I work with women like movie-Gilbert daily…and vomit a lot about it. A right-on assessment of a very real condition: me, meee, MEEEEEEE! Thanks for the post. ~Heather

    • I know I read the book, but, for the life of me, I couldn’t remember much about it. And I also work with women like that, which might be part of the reason I reacted to strongly to the film.

  12. Thank you, thank you, thank you for saying out loud what I felt inside about this apparently steaming pile of self-centered crapola.

    • I’m quickly learning that a lot of women (especially) have reacted the same way to this book/movie. That makes me feel better, since a few people actually applauded at the end of the preview last night. Though, come to think of it, maybe they were just happy it was over.

  13. Thanks for the insight. I love it!

  14. Awesome review, while everyone in the world is kissing Julia Robert’s ass and this movie, you tell it how it really is! Great review!

    Movies-n-More

    • I’m sure she’ll be heartbroken. *laughs* I haven’t read other reviews of this movie, but I’ll probably go looking for some during my lunch break.

  15. I listened to the book via audio book, with Gilbert as narrator. She sounded smug, self-important and mistook self-absorption for depth. Great review.

  16. CrystalSpins

    Man, you really seem to hate upper-middle class white women. I hope you aren’t one yourself.

    I’m going to this movie tomorrow night with a group of my girlfriends and I hope you are wrong about it. The book was amazing and, aside from being jealous of Elizabeth Gilbert for her ability to take a whole year off and embark on such an adventure, I adored it. And I can’t say that I think Elizabeth Gilbert is the greatest person I’ve ever read about but I am grateful to her for sharing her experience.

    I hope to write a book as good as hers one day. (I already think my blog is as good as her book, in fact.)

    I must also add that one of the major flaws of this film is Julia Roberts. Not for her acting ability, but for her age. She is a decade to old to play the character from the book.

    Crystal

    • Thanks for the comment. I am white, but certainly not upper middle class. I’m a paycheck-to-paycheck work-a-day person with great friends and family. I work hard for the things I have, and I’m grateful for them, which is why this story bothers the living crap out of me.

      That said, I hope you enjoy the movie, or, at least, that you enjoy a night out with your friends. I need to have a night out with my friends soon.

  17. LOVE this post! Way to tell it like it is!

  18. All I have to say is: I agree with ALL of this. I read the book just after coming home from a six month job in India a few years back, because I was having a bit of reverse culture shock and thought it might be interesting. And I guess it was, but not in the way I had hoped. Blargh.

    • Thanks for the comment! I’ve never met anybody who’s actually been to India, so everything I “know” about it is from books, TV, and film. How did you find it?

      • nopoints4penmanship

        Honestly, I don’t have a simple answer for what it was like to work/travel there, partly because I was there for such a short time and partly because there’s always that aspect of being an outsider to your surroundings (especially when you’re heading back to America when all is said and done). But in a nutshell, it was very similar to how it’s portrayed on a superficial level, but very different in other ways. That’s what bugged me about the book. It seemed like Gilbert approached her time there looking for something cliche, and guess what? She found it.

      • nopoints4penmanship

        Oh yeah, I almost forgot! Have you seen this?

  19. I read the book, and I must say, I can see how Oprah zombies are sucked into this. You are right on the mark with this review. Incredible self-centered, it reflects our culture beautifully. Thanks for posting this; I shared it on FB:)

    • I understand that even people who “have it all” can feel sad and disappointed with their lives, but my GAWD, the shallow self-centeredness here made me think, “YOU WANTED THE DIVORCE!” Normally I’m much more sympathetic, so when a character (especially one based on a real person) makes me react that way, I sort of feel compelled to share.

  20. You are awesomely awesome, Awesome-face! :)

  21. Love this post! I read the book only after I saw the previews for the movie. I liked the idea of Gilbert indulging in three specific things to find herself. I just finished reading the book last week and except for the first part in Italy, I barely managed to make it through the rest. I agree with you- Who can afford to take a year off? AND travel to these places? When I feel stressed the furthest I get is my balcony with a glass of wine…geez… thanks for this. I was thinking the movie may redeem the book for me…I mean James Franco alone…but now I think I’ll pass.

    • The scenes in Italy were the best part of the movie, too. And James Franco is verreh verreh cute, no? I wish I’d liked him better in this film.

      Your stress-reliever sounds wonderful. I like to sit out in the back yard with a book as long as it isn’t too hot. (North Carolina summers can be brutal.)

  22. I admit I couldn’t finish the book and haven’t seen the movie so can’t comment on that. The book lost me in the first fifty pages. It was so huge I figured I was missing something but kept falling asleep reading it so gave up eventually as I prefer to stay awake while I read. There are plenty of books and movies written by and about self absorbed upper middle class white folks that are actually entertaining so I don’t really take issue with the concept. An entire movie industry has in fact been built on it. There are even one or two highly successful books/movies about self absorbed upper middle class non-white folks (Waiting to Exhale for eg). There are also some mind bendingly dull books and movies about poor people who can also be self absorbed and narcissistic. I don’t think those traits are exclusive to the white & wealthy. The difference is the writing. If the book was better written and didn’t contain so many contemporary cliches you might be on the ride with her. Rich or poor, who wouldn’t love to ditch her life for a year and frolic with the natives in foreign countries then end up in the arms of Javier Bardem? I’m seeing the movie just for him.

    • I have always been curious about this book— I have friends who LOVED it, and then I hear complaints that it is too “self-absorbed”.

      I actually don’t mind reading stories about self-absorbed people. I think that self-discovery is an important and wonderful journey. I would love to be able to take a year off and just fly to wherever I fancy, so I wanted to read Eat Pray Love for a glimpse of that experience.

      I am putting my comment in here because I agree that, no matter what the plot, “the difference is the writing”.

      Thanks for sharing this review Temmahkrik. I think I will watch the movie just so I can relate to this post. You got me intrigued.

      =D

  23. Middle class white male moves to Bali, falls in love, builds a company to sell lovely white dresses to middle class white females, and … RUN FOR YOUR LIFE! Eat, Love Pray and Run Away, true story at uluwatu.com.

  24. It is so refreshing to know that I was not the only one who struggled with this “character”. You definitely spoke with much more fire than I did when I reviewed the book on my blog. I had to forget about the totally unrealistic (and selfish) reasons Gilbert was even on the trip and just enjoy the glimpses of cultural and spiritual navigation. However, as a Julia Roberts fan, I will probably suck it up like many curious others and hand over my hard-earned cash for a couple of tickets.

    Thanks!

    - Emily

    http://mypajamadays.com/category/book-reviews/

    • Hey, my pleasure! I know I read the book, but I couldn’t seem to recall much about it. I don’t know if I disliked it so much, but then again I don’t think I made it a point to review things like I do now. So I could have really hated it and just decided to let it go. Much healthier, sure, but not nearly as entertaining. *grin*

  25. CrystalSpins

    I’m paycheck to paycheck myself — hence my jealousy.

    Crystal

    • Ah, sure. I see that a bit, I guess. I try not to be jealous, but, trust me, it’s a struggle sometimes. (I don’t mean that in a holier-than-thou way, either. I literally have to decide not to be jealous, which obviously means my instinct is to envy the ever-loving shit out of some people. *laughs*)

    • Also, I have to wonder at how I could be so polite to you when you commented here and how you could turn around and go somewhere else and accuse me of hating myself? After reading a review of something I didn’t like?

      Way to stay classy, twerp.

  26. Thanks for sharing! I linked this on my facebook. My friends want to see the movie, and so did I. I poked around a bit not having read the book- just having seen the Oprah interview. In the Oprah interview I thought I heard from a lady that ReNounced the material world for her spiritual journey. eyes needles and camels :) I do praise the author for bringing the subject of “spirituality” into pop culture no matter what form it takes.

  27. Thanks for the comment! If you and your friends still get to see the movie, go for it; at the very least, it’s a night out with your pals, right? And if you agree that it’s not great, you can have all sorts of fun discussing why! And if you think I’m totally out of line, you can have all sorts of fun discussing why! *laughs*

  28. Wow. I disagree with you. I’m not wealthy. And I also live check to check. So I understand what you’re saying about people with “real problems.” However, it’s not all about financial wealth. Emotional emptiness and spiritual loss are real problems as well. I appreciate Gilbert’s willingness to let go of what everyone else assumed should make her happy (i.e. any marriage) and pursue her own definition of happiness. The ability to travel for the purpose of self-exploration certainly isn’t something that everyone can afford. But I don’t think it’s fair to judge someone when they are able and choose to do so. I say more power to her.

    As someone who is about to move to Amsterdam in the hopes of living a better and happier life, I can’t knock the theory that leaving home is sometimes the best medicine.

  29. I still want to wath the movie, just because, but your right. I have problems and I want to go travel abroad to find myself, but YEAH RIGHT. Do you want to loan me the money? LOL just kidding. Thanks for the review, now I know not to go into the movie theatre thinking it’s going to be awesome. Don’t hate me if I still think it’s good though.

    • Nah, if you like it you like it. I like things other people love to hate as much as I love to hate stuff they like. (Um… That was a confusing sentence.) Thanks for the comment!

  30. Great post! You put it so eloquently why this book/movie don’t appeal to me at all, despite (or because of it?) being filmed partly in my home country. I’m going to put the link to your post on my blog tomorrow as you said everything I wanted to say about it. It’s a self-centered message presented in a pretty little package and sold as something entirely poignant and noble. If she really wants to ‘marvel’ at something, there are plenty of God’s given blessings all around us, in the everyday things.

  31. Bless you! Have been ranting about all the promo this movie, book, and Gilbert have been getting. Read the book, listened to Gilbert read it – totally repulsed. It’s a sad day when she is a model of “Enlightenment” for some women. Hope it goes the way of Sex/City crap, down the drain! Ok, am calming down. Great post/review – brava!

    • *laughs* ANOTHER PERSON WHO FEELS THE WAY I DO ABOUT SEX AND THE CITY! Be still my heart. Thanks for the comment!

      • Hey I abhor SATC and all their hedonistic worship of material things and well, sex. So high five on that note as well :)

      • Seriously, where have you two been all my life? I swear my friends were about to pin me down and search for dude-parts because they can’t understand how I could be a twenty-six-year-old woman and loathe SATC the way I do.

      • This is unusual? I can’t stand SatC. Shallow shopping-obsessed tedium, yechhhh. I really don’t get what all the fuss is about.

  32. Did you read the book? It’s just as bad (I imagine) as the movie (I haven’t seen it and refuse to see it.) The book was someone’s pick for our book club one month. (I’m sure for no other reason than, at the time, it was a best-seller.) I immediately hated the book but have this policy where I have to finish a book once I start no matter how bad the book is. I completely reject the ending to the book (and movie). In my opinion, the only message this book sends is having a man solves everything. She leaves a man to find herself and ends up with another man. Great message. Slightly counter-intuitive of the point of the journey, but whatever. It made her money, I’m sure.

  33. In response to your review, I considered posting a statement about how the events in Fahrenheit 451 would be highly appropriate in dealing with this particular novel. However, having not read said novel, I suppose I can’t submit it to such destructive techniques. That wouldn’t be fair.

    What I CAN say is that print is dying, and THIS is what they consider publishable? Your review of the movie is exactly what I expected the movie to come across like, and I’m SO glad you were chosen to be FP’ed so that I could be introduced to it. You are absolutely my hero.

    • Right. And even so, there are some wonderful books being published (Lisa Mantchev’s Théâtre Illuminata trilogy springs to mind) that could be made into wonderful films if someone wanted to adapt them. But there’s an audience for everything, I suppose…

  34. I saw the movie, too, and will be reviewing it tomorrow on my India travel blog BreatheDreamGo, so I’m not going to say how I felt it about here. But I do want to speak to one point in your review.

    I went through a terrible period in my life where both my parents died and my fiance left me. My Mother’s death was very traumatic for me, and I went into a terrible depression. I had to fight for my life to get through it, and I did it by throwing my faith into yoga. Yoga got me moving and breathing and gave me the impetus to go after one of my dreams: to become a yoga teacher.

    So, at age 45, I enrolled in a year-long yoga teacher training program — though I was the oldest and least flexible person in a group of 24. And during that program I decided to follow another life-long dream and go to India.

    I had never been a backpacker and I was afraid to go, but I HAD to leave my tomb-like apartment. I put everything in storage, gave up my apartment, rented a small room, saved for a year and finally went. I traveled in India in 2005-2006, and it was the best thing I have ever done. It gave me my life back — and I love India for that and for so many other things.

    I did this before the book Eat, Pray, Love came out, and when I read the book I was disappointed. She had a big book advance and was not on a spiritual quest as far as I am concerned,. But I defend the idea of a journey of self-discovery – I wrote about it on my blog: http://breathedreamgo.com/2010/07/eat-pray-love-and-india/

    So feel free to be cynical about this book/movie — but please don’t be cynical about the value of spiritual quests.

    Cheers, Mariellen

    • Thanks for the comment! You have to consider the source here: I’m not a spiritual person. I’m also a humor writer and semi-professional snark, so it’s fair to take everything I say/write with a grain of salt. I’m glad you were able to find peace after such trying experiences. We all deal with things differently, and my experiences have led me to a place where I’ve watched too many people run away from things they don’t like to deal with leaving the people who love them (and might need them) in the lurch. It doesn’t mean I think everyone who takes an extended holiday or does certain things in order to de-stress or think about things is a selfish jerk. But movie-Gilbert definitely struck me that way.

  35. kimberlybowman

    Ah. People I love like this book, so I’ve tried not to be too snarky about it (well, to them directly.) Thank you for this!

    • No problem! I have friends who love Twilight, but after I got through all four books, I had to say, “I’m sorry you guys. I love you, but I hated these things, and I have to tell the world.” Luckily for me they liked the review I wrote, even if it was VERY hard on the books they love.

  36. I am reading her new book now “Committed” and there is a lot I don’t agree with either, even thou there are some interesting facts there….

    • There are some funny moments in the film, too. And, of course, the locations are gorgeous. I wish there had been a lot more substance, though, because I feel like I could have gotten just as much from reading a friend’s bog post about their most recent vacation.

  37. oow.. I just vomited onto my laptop… I think it’s going to die pretty soo

  38. Why, I do believe you’ve inspired me to write my own post on this topic. I’m glad to see so many people agree that that this vapid self-promotion is a waste of bookshelf space. And while I’d hoped Julia Roberts might be enough of a redeeming factor to make the movie worthwhile … after reading this post and all the comments I’ll save my money.

    • Huzzah! Please let me know what your post is live; I’d like to read it. I was disappointed that Roberts wasn’t enough either. I know she isn’t a great actress and that she’s basically been playing the same part for a really long time, but I do usually think she’s likable enough, you know? I didn’t expect to love this movie, but I thought Roberts would help my opinin of the film, not that the film would tarnish my opinion of Roberts. I guess I’ll stick with watching her play a hooker with a heart of gold every time I get my period.

  39. valentinedee

    I didn’t see the movie, although when the book came out and she appeared on Oprah, I was kind of shocked. Not so much by the fact that she traveled across the world to find herself, but because she was able to write about it and got herself on the NYTimes best seller list. I read somewhere that she was a writer to start with, so writing the experience wasn’t the hard part… I guess getting it published wasn’t either. Ahhh, the mysteries of life. Great blog, :)

    • Thanks for the comment and the compliment! I believe Gilbert was a travel writer before she wrote Eat Pray Love and her newest book. Sometimes writing and publishing is a combination of talent, dedication, and great timing. I don’t doubt Gilbert has spent a long time developing her craft, so I don’t begrudge her the book sales or anything. Like I said in another comment, there’s an audience for everything. This type of book in general bugs me, and Gilbert’s just a target because of the popularity of her particular memoir and this new movie.

  40. amorvincitomnia831

    Personally, I loved the book very much! And just to be clear, no I don’t watch Oprah, nor have I ever belonged among Oprah’s legions of book club followers either! Plus, I’m far from any classification of a white, middle class woman…Actually, I’m a working class Maltese/Italian, middle-aged lesbian, who has never been married…I’m only offering this information to dispel the many preconceived notions (comments) that I’ve read about the kind of people who have really enjoyed this book…And while I appreciate everyone’s opinions and views, I must disagree wholeheartedly…
    Eat Pray Love is a woman’s personal journey to finding peace for herself, nothing more, nothing less…I was deeply moved by her experiences and reading about the wisdom she gained along the way, not to mention the cast of real characters that touched her life and heart…Which inadvertently touched my heart through her words…As far as the movie goes however, I will probably wait for it’s release on DVD though…If it was in 3D, then I would probaly go see it in the theater ;) Otherwise, it’s netflix for me…Thank you for your review and be well…

    • Thank you very much for the comment! I appreciate you sharing why the book resonated with you. I do want to hear from people who disagree with me, and I’m extra-super-special happy when they feel moved or passionate enough to tell me why. Be well yourself, and thanks for visiting.

  41. It makes me a little nervous the they aren’t letting reviewers screen this film. I love Julia Roberts though.

    • You’re the second person today who’s told me that. Well, I might not be a film reviewer, but I am a book reviewer, and, more important, I’m WAY opinionated.

      I forgot to put this in the original post, but they scanned all of us with metal detectors and made us leave our cell phones in our cars. I was expecting the film to devulge state secrets that hadn’t been edited out of the final cut. So the unlikable main character wasn’t the only thing about Eat Pray Love that left me feeling disappointed.

      • They did all that security stuff for a press screening of Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs so I was similarly hoping for earth-shattering revelations.

        From your review (and my own assumptions based on the trailer) Cloudy was approx a squillion times less disappointing overall though ;)

      • I get that they don’t want people filming the movies to resell as bootlegs, but #1: My BlackBerry can only take, like, a 5 minute video, tops, and #2: Just because you don’t let me tweet about the movie from inside the theater doesn’t mean I’m not going to tell people what I thought about afterwards.

  42. The implication that you need to transport yourself from your “real” life in order to find yourself is a theme that I find both fascinating and bothersome. I did that, kind of, by escaping to Paris to teach English for a few months, and it was certainly a worthwhile experience, but having returned to my “real” life I find the ease with which I could commune with myself has given way to the demands of classes, exercise, eating, sleep, etc. Another author, Gretchen Rubin, tackled the idea of finding oneself without feeling the need to remove yourself from your reality in “The Happiness Project.” I found it an insightful read, much more representative of the way people live and the struggles they face in balancing introspection and daily living. Give it a go!

  43. Hey, even upper middle class white women who don’t eat ramen noodles over the sink deserve some love, don’t they?
    Any movie Julia Roberts is in I’ll have to pass on – unless somewhere down the road Eric Bana happens to be her co-star :0)

    • Man, if I ever break into the middle class, I’m never looking at ramen again unless it’s served to me by a Japanese guy wearing a hachimaki. *laughs*

  44. I felt this way after reading the book. Then I saw that they cast Julia Roberts – wasn’t she 33, like, 10 years ago? UGH. They need to stop with this “best-seller” turns “blockbuster” bull. Love your style. Congrats on FP!

    • Thanks! I was pretty floored when I got the email notifying me of that. I’d feel better about books being made into movies if the people who made them were even half as passionate as people like Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, and Phillipa Boyens were when they made Lord of the Rings. I’m sick of seeing mediocre films period, but mediocre films made from mediocre books… Ugh. The WORST.

  45. um. I know I am not the first to say it but: I love you! This is awesome! I did read this book, and thought “what a nice fairytale. No actual real person can really do this and afford it.”
    Our whole society is wrapped up and choking in narcissism. This is another example. While I am sure Gilbert worked hard to get her first few books published, the fact that she had a cushy year of vacationing is a bit much.

    Slap in the face is a great term used in your writing! I love your passion and honesty in this blog. I have been working my ASS off since september so that I can afford to go to South America in February 2011. Real people have to consider their plans, lives, finances and JOBS to leave their home. Thank you for standing up for the rest of us hard-working women who don’t always get a break.

    • Oh wow! Thanks so much! I’ve been scrimping and saving to get to Japan someday. I don’t know when it will happen, but it’ll definitely be the end result of a lot of careful planning when I eventually get there. I hope you have a blast in South America!

  46. As a struggling student I instantly thought “who can afford to take 365 days off from life AND if they can afford to do that how bad could their life be?” I don’t understand this movie at all. Seems a bit over the top and unrealistic. Meh. I’m not the demographic they are trying to reach. Seems like another feel good your life can be great white lady movie (a la sex in the city)

  47. You have some valid points and made me laugh! I haven’t read the book but I’ll still see it an excuse for a girls’ nite out ; )

  48. The book seemed like a pretentious pile of…stuff…and the trailer did little to convince me otherwise. Thank you for confirming my suspicions.

  49. Ummm, I haven’t seen a movie in a theatre for last 2 yrs. Before that it was 5 yrs. Cost is one of the main reasons plus I find other sources of entertainment. I must be living too much in reality ’cause I haven’t even read a novel for the past 6-7 yrs. And I have a BA in English literature.

    I enjoyed your review of the movie. For the rest of the folks here: think of the essence of the movie and how that is similar to some of the tv travel shows where a ‘cool’ narrator gets gains insight/does risky stuff while the poorer locals look on (in amusement or bewilderment). (And why are most travel show narrators, white?? 21st century has 2nd, 3rd generation non-whites that speak perfect, accent-free English for tv.)

    I don’t mind reading travelogues where instead of great personal introspection, that there is some decent research and analysis of what the traveller saw and experienced. Same for travel shows that are more informative with research and humility instead of an athletic endurance race in a jungle/desert to show their own prowess in foreign surroundings.

    I digress. :)

    • “I don’t mind reading travelogues where instead of great personal introspection, that there is some decent research and analysis of what the traveller saw and experienced.” I could not agree more. I love reading about other cultures and places, and I even love anecdotal writing from travel writers who obviously know their stuff and love what they do.

  50. I try to do this in my blog. We just returned from Europe. I was travelling on air mile points –which meant sacrificing a trip to China since I can’t afford it. But it was a lifetime trip since my partner knows German and the culture..so that is a serious opportunity for an atypical travel trip.
    Some of the cycling travelogues by women are great for both personal development (because travelling with loaded panniers on your own for thousands of kms. is serious effort) and for their research efforts. I point to: Dervla Murphy (Irish cyclist-travel writer. She is excellent in dealing with complex countries such as South Africa, etc.), Josie Dew and others.

  51. I just wanted to tell you that your “Take Note” post below on your blog was the funniest thing I’ve read all week. Loved it! It makes me want to write a crazy list for my b-day later this month. LOL
    I tried to post this on that post instead of here but apparently comments on it are closed. And I just had to tell you how awesome it was. ;)
    And yeah, I haven’t seen the movie you are talking about here but I enjoyed the review. I had the book, I could not get into it, and could not force myself to finish it. Oh and I agree with you on Sex in the City too. I never “got” that either. Way to materialistic and “Me Me Me!” for my tastes I suppose.

  52. While I agree with some of your criticism, I would suggest reading the book before coming to all of these conclusions. I read it and it was a bit better than how you’ve described the movie. Perhaps the movie was meant for women who had already read the book?
    I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I doubt it does the novel justice. No movie-remake ever does.

    • Thanks, Nina! The funny thing is, I did read the book (my GoodReads archive says so anyway, and I do remember getting a copy from the library), but I’ll be damned if I can remember a thing about it. I didn’t always review things I didn’t like, though, so it’s possible I disliked it and just pushed it from my mind when I finished it.

  53. Wow. I just came across your blog and have to say: great post! I haven’t read the book but two of my friends have and say more or less the same things about it than you and the other readers. I’ve heard so many negative comments about book/film that I’m tempted to read it! ha!

    • Ha! You sound like me!

      Friend: “GOD, I saw the WORST movie EVER last night!”
      Me: “What’s it called and where can I get a copy?”

      Thanks for the comment.

  54. I have so much joy in my heart from reading these comments. Women really are not buying into this crap that Gilbert spews. Plus, most don’t know – she was given a 200,000 dollar advance to go “find herself”. I did have a brief fleeting thought that maybe, just maybe the movie might turn out better than the book. But, looks not to be.
    I love your writing, certainly will come back. Congrats on the Freshly Pressed.

    • Ahhhhh… Yes, the advance was not mentioned in the film (and, as stated below, I can’t remember a thing about the book).

      Thanks for the comment and the compliments! I’ve been writing this blog for five years, so I’m a little overwhelmed by the Freshly Pressed nod and the sudden comment/hit surge. (Overwhelmed in a good way. I wouldn’t mind being overwhelmed this way more often.)

      (I’m not very subtle.)

  55. I haven’t seen this movie, I haven’t read the book, and I don’t intend to. It almost seems like a mockery of people’s current struggles (in the economic meltdown) for Hollywood to come out with a movie about someone jetsetting away for self-discovery.

  56. Haha!What a great post!I (like so many) have not read the book, and I really don’t plan on seeing the movie. While it does seem happy and inspirational what with the upbeat music in the trailers, it always seemed as though there was something…off.Like it’s so upbeat and happy you won’t even notice how ridiculous it is.
    Thanks for the warning. I’d rather avoid voming in a popcorn bucket=]

  57. Wow, I was looking forward to the movie but now am having second thoughts…

  58. I love this! And, I was totally thinking this as I saw the preview for this movie too. When you lose everything, you certainly can’t travel, all you can do is try to scrape yourself off of the ground and try desperately to get a job… which, in this economy, is incredibly hard. You’re better than me, I’d probably take the tickets and bury them in my back yard.

    I also hate it in movies (and books) where people love the character before they even talk. My favorite types of movies deal with real life dysfunction and I just can’t deal with romantic movies or something like this, blah.

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  60. Congrats on Freshly Pressed and absolutely, bloody, brilliant, fantastic review! Of course I haven’t seen the movie myself yet, but I think I can safely assume, based on my own disdain of the trailers for Eat. Pray. Love., that you are spot on.

    I have no job, no savings, no home, no health insurance. I know what I’ll do! I’m gonna BLOW this popsicle stand and travel the WORLD and… oh wait. I’m also poor. Oh well. Maybe I’ll just buy myself a popsicle and continuing working on my resume. :)

    Natina

    http://humansareassholes.wordpress.com/
    http://crosswordcharlie.wordpress.com/

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  62. Damn. I was really looking forward to this movie because I just adored the book, but I had a feeling (from the previews) that it would be portrayed like this. It’s not at all how it went over in the book, where she struggled a great deal and wasn’t at all the Benevolent White Lady. Well, I’ll see the film anyway, knowing that I already don’t like it… and then sigh deeply and go back and read the book.

    Congrats on being freshly pressed!

    http://sociosound.wordpress.com

  63. Yeah, I hated the book too – couldn’t even make it through that, there’s no chance I’ll watch a movie…

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  68. Thanks for this review. I hated the book for many of the same reasons you disliked the film. I had thought that it had a glimmer of potential on the screen, glad I didn’t waste my $8. I posted a review of the book here: http://writerlyhabit.wordpress.com/2010/07/28/eat-pray-love-when-will-it-end/

  69. I’ve read the book….ooops – change that. I started reading the book but threw in down in disgust at her moaning self absorption and completely uninterestingness (I know it isn’t a word :-)). Great review, was wondering if the screenplay may have been changed enough to make it watchable, like Julie and Julia, but it seems not.

  70. I read the book and i didn’t really like it! I didn’t understand what all the hype over the book was all about. Thanks for the very cool and very honest review – you have just made me save money that could go into a gorgeous blouse!

  71. Hmmm- interesting. Thanks. Sorry in advance for the long comments below!

    The saccharine goody two shoes cultural imperialism and girly razzle-dazzle drooling of this movie thankfully hasn’t yet reached me in the UK, but thanks to your illuminating and amusing post I’ll be ready for it when it does. From what you’re saying this strikes me as a movie designed to be giggled over and gawped at by the characters from Sex & the City or Friends or something, or at least people who like to think they are those characters; a movie that at once makes its imagined audience feel deeper than they might fear they are at the same time as reinforcing our ill-informed preconceptions about the wider world and letting us know that it’s quite all right to be fancy coffee gulping, ipad guzzling insatiable consumers.

    Please don’t paint me as someone who is constantly opposed to these sorts of movies, but there is a tendency for them to be both messy and irritatingly glib reinforcements of a lot of the bad things in our societies. Speaking as I am from a position of ignorance on this Gilbert character and her film (but ignorance doesn’t usually stop us people from spouting, as we all know) it’s all very well classing these things as entertainment, but in my mind that’s rather like classing McDonalds as food (and ignoring any wider issues arising from that). It strikes me as wallpaper for the eyes and a dead-eyed cat stroking of the heart. Whether Eat Pray Love is the right vehicle for ‘issues’ or looks to be anything more than comforting closed-curtains entertainment probably renders my comments redundant. I do think there’s a more detailed piece to be written here though. Maybe by cultural theorists.

    I spent 15 months teaching preschool in South Korea as my ‘journey out of life’. It was amazing. I’ve written all the notes, and I’d love to write a book about it (‘A Korea Break’)- but us normal struggling people just don’t have the time/generous advance that (can I say this?) some self obsessed idiots do! I know I AM a self obsessed idiot, but that’s another story.

    Culturally despairing and rantingly envious regards

    Pablum Biolab

    More rants on m’blog.

  72. I was just wondering…what did your Mom think about the movie?

  73. What a great opinion! I know you are really shooting this book/movie down, however, I would quickly like to explain my view of traveling. First, I am 21. So, I do not have children or a husband to leave behind. Second, I am in college so I studied abroad in Europe this past semester for the purpose of seeing what is out there, instead of hiding in my little hometown. So, my experience is definitely different then the person (Liz) that you just shot down.

    So, the reason I chose to study abroad is because I wanted to learn more about myself. I lived at home with my mom and went to college locally. I basically was in a cocoon my whole young life. I wanted to break free for a little bit and see different cultures. So, since studying abroad cost the same as tuition at my school.

    I went to Ireland. And traveled around Europe.

    It was the best experience of my life. I went by myself. Met new people and immersed myself in out-of-US culture. I learned to be more independent, confident, saw different views of the world (outside of US opinion), influenced me to seek out a greater diversity of friends, and helped initiate possible future employment opportunities (I want to be a Physical therapist, but I am thinking of possibly become a traveling PT for a couple of years).

    Overall maturity-wise, I have definitely grown in that aspect personally.

    Sure I left my family for a few months (my mom told me she cried occasionally too, but she knew this was something I needed for myself).

    Just to make it clear, I have not read the book or seen the movie. Money-wise, financial aid still worked while I was over there and I had about 2000 dollars of traveling money to use after my aunt passed away. So, I did have a limited budget but as a student, it was much easier.

    However, my eyes were bulging out in seeing things out there. Our country is very beautiful, but I wanted to see the beauty in people and places outside our culture. As for my friends I left behind at home…well one studied abroad at the same time and the others….they have pretty busy work lives as well. They managed without me. Then again, I do not know from the aspect of a middle aged woman who just left her husband.

    So, there is my view on traveling and leaving for a while.

  74. fitinstandout

    Elizabeth Gilbert, a professional writer, was given an advance on the book in order to financially be able to travel for a year. I’m not sure how the movie presents it byut the author was not a rich socialite who could throw away money and travel around the world.

    • Thanks for the comment and the info. Still doesn’t really help with the whole “traveling-to-find-herself” thing. If anything it adds another layer of distaste to the whole project for me. If only all of our spiritual endeavors could have such generous financial backing.

  75. sayitinasong

    Exactly!! My first thought was when I saw the trailer (and I have not read the book, even though I would like to…) is how can people just drop everything and travel for a year or more… I mean… you have to be pretty damn lucky to begin with, as obviouly you cannot have many tie sthat bind and a limitless bank account and/or a VERY understanding boss…

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  77. God, that review was a fun read. Perhaps the movie would be a good ‘quote along’ event. I’m sure it has a lot of ‘wisdom’.

  78. good soup Temmy! Congrats on the response!

  79. I agree. Gilbert knew she would come back and publish her book (which was finalized before she went off to find herself) and that would make her millions. I did not even find the book inspirational. She had no REAL problems. She was escaping from reality and took a nice long vacation. I have not seen the movie. I admit I will one of these days to satisfy my own curiosity about the movie.

  80. I am pleased to be visiting on this great blog-awaited return visit

  81. Wow, I had a feeling it was gonna be like that. Julia Roberts has been making a lot of movies like this and I still don’t really know why. The plots are just impractical and clearly fictional. Oh well.

  82. Really enjoyed your review. Firm, fair and funny, my kind of writing. I will not be seeing this film. After 3 secs of the trailer I’d my mind made up. Looking forward to your next review.

    • Thanks! I try not to see movies I’m pretty sure I’m going to dislike, but every now and then I see something with a friend that makes me go, “Buh WUH?!” That’s usually when I hit the keyboard.

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  84. Ha, I can see where you’re coming from. I saw Eat Pray Love and really enjoyed it but never took it seriously. I just couldn’t buy the idea that Gilbert’s life was so “hard” when she can obviously afford to find herself. How many of us can take the time, money, and space to do that, as much as we’d like to? People with REAL problems deserve the escape more, but can rarely manage it, while Gilbert whines across some of the world’s most beautiful places how hard it is. Don’t get me wrong- I think emotional issues (of which she had many) are what gives the movie the little substance it has, but it was hard to get into that without thinking of her as an ingrate.