“God dwells in me, as me,” claims Elizabeth Gilbert, the main character in “Eat Pray Love,” who seems to reach incredible insights without understanding how. The movie attempts to follow Gilbert (Julia Roberts) as she travels an unconventional path of spirituality, but the plot is thin, the characters are flat and the movie lacks emotion.
After recognizing she has become too dependent on men, Gilbert embarks on a yearlong retreat to rediscover her spiritual and personal identity. Through indulging in Italian cuisine, meditating in an ashram and finding balance and love in Bali, Liz finds herself transformed by the end of the movie.
The two and a half hour film offers little plot development. The film rambles aimlessly and lingers on her divorce for 45 minutes, and an hour into the movie, the film’s purpose is still unclear. When Liz does finally leave for Italy, the audience is left unsure of what personal crisis she’s hoping to overcome.
The author spent three months in Rome coming to terms with her necessary independence by withstanding attraction to the many Italian men she encounters. In the movie, she merely indulges in food with friends and shares a speech about the importance of community. Throughout the movie, the audience is often left baffled at how she suddenly gained such life-changing understanding of herself.
The most disappointing aspect of the film is the lack of authenticity and emotion. At one point Gilbert finds herself in an intense conversation with Richard (Richard Jenkins), which should be emotionally-charged but isn’t believable. With tears streaming down her face, Liz maintains a blank stare while contributing little to the conversation.
Director Ryan Murphy’s eye for imagery adds visual appeal. Set against the rich backdrops of bustling Italy, colorful India and bohemian Bali, “Eat Pray Love” follows Liz as she travels the world. But aside from the bright, dazzling scenery, the film does not live up to the book.
“Eat Pray Love” is an indulgent film, but it fails to deliver the promised insight. The long running time, along with a thin plot and a lack of dynamic characters, makes the movie dull and unmoving. Aside from the scenic views, the film doesn’t offer much worth seeing.
“Eat Pray Love” was written by Ryan Murphy, Jennifer Salt and Elizabeth Gilbert and directed by Murphy.