Once the most profitable female actress in Hollywood, now ten years after winning her Oscar for Erin Brockovich, which was her last lead role; Julia Roberts returns to see if her popularity has endured. Based on the best selling memoir by Liz Gilbert, the trailer suggests this film directed by Glee creator Ryan Murphy will be more like a Travel Channel special than an entertaining narrative. Eat Pray Love solely depends on the supporting characters and actors to infuse the film, which has every frame filled with Roberts. For those of sound mind and direction, Eat Pray Love might not appeal with its self-discovery message, for the younger audience it might be meditation for clarity.

 New York writer Liz Gilbert (Roberts) finds herself in a stale marriage to her high school sweetheart (Crudup), a lack of appetite, and a lack of excitement for all aspects of her life. She yearns for the passion she felt in her 20’s and decides to stop collecting National Geographic Magazines to spend the remainder of her year in Italy, India, and finally Bali. She sets out to rediscover herself, get over her marriage, distance herself from a recent boyfriend, and smile more. In Rome she eats the most amazing pasta and meets friends who surround her with love. In India she finds it difficult to pray and leave all of her baggage behind, and in Bali she truly begins to relax with beautiful scenery and people.

 I understand the reasons for choosing Roberts in this role. Her high profile persona seems necessary to carry a film that is completely focused on one person. While Roberts makes Liz easy to understand, she never explores the depths of Liz that make her worth focusing a two and a half hour movie about. The character moves from location to location with ease without knowing where she gets the money to stay at these amazing locations, nor what kind of a writer she is. Each location is like a page out of a pop-up book, with new paper thin characters popping up. The only element the film gives us is the characters effect on Liz, neither of which has enough screen time to really have an effect on the audience.

 Oscar nominee Jenkins (The Visitor) and winner Bardem (No Country For Old Men) give the best performances of the film. Jenkins, in a scene where his character reveals his demons is one of the strongest of the movie, and is a rare and honest actor that can deliver an emotional performance and change the entire movie. Bardem also uses emotion to win the audience over in a scene where he cries when his son leaves to return to school.  This is a beautifully captured scene that we rarely see associated with strong male characters. I enjoyed the film overall much more than I anticipated, but again I think your approval of the film depends on you are in life’s journey.

 Final Thought – A self reflective and somewhat relaxing experience.

Grade B+

By: Dustin Chase W.

Editor: Mark Shell