AWFJ Women On Film – “Eat Pray Love” – Review by Susan Granger

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Now I have to read Elizabeth Gilbert’s best-selling memoir – because this tepid travelogue of a self-involved yuppie writer can’t be what’s inspired so many women.

Radiant Julia Roberts plays Liz Gilbert, an ambivalent, well-to-do New Yorker who, after visiting an elderly guru (Hadi Subiyanto) in Bali, divorces her adoring husband Stephen (Billy Crudup) to embark on a New Age journey of self-discovery, beginning with a fling with a hunky, much younger actor, David (James Franco). Having seemingly unlimited time and money, she then decides to visit Italy – for the food – then India – to find God – and, finally, back to Indonesia – where, unbeknownst to her, awaits a

delectable divorced Brazilian, Felipe (Javier Bardem), who’s smitten at first sight. But can Liz ever truly balance her need for independence with her longing to be loved?

Having achieved fame and fortune for creating the TV series “Nip/Tuck” and “Glee,” Ryan Murphy wrote the trivializing, episodic screenplay with Jennifer Salt and he directs it at what could be generously described as a leisurely pace with Robert Richardson’s cinematography emphasizing sumptuous scenery and succulent meals. Prominent Roman restaurants include L’Orso near Piazza Navona, famous for their antipasti, and Osteria Del Antiquario, between the Piazza and St. Peter’s, along with popular L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele in Naples, which serves an awesome 180 pizzas every hour. And idealized, colorful scenes of these enlightening, edible orgies are spiced with appropriate music.

Wherever she goes on this earnest, if tedious, self-help quest, shrill, self-analyzing Liz makes empathetic female friends (Viola Davis, Tuva Novotny, Rushita Singh, Christine Hakim), but her most memorable encounter is at a Hindu ashram outside New Dehli, where she bonds with a cantankerous, straight-talking Texan, Richard (Richard Jenkins, delivering an authentic, astute performance), whom she accuses of “speaking in bumper stickers.” (As a side note: Roberts and her family reportedly converted from Christianity to Hinduism during the filming.)

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Eat Pray Love” is an exotic, escapist, superficially spiritual 6. It’s shallow, indulgent, female wish-fulfillment, sailing off into the sunset.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.