After the breakdown of her marriage and another doomed relationship, writer Liz Gilbert (Julia Roberts) decides to pack up and spend a year in Italy, India, and Bali, where she – you got it – feasts, gets spiritual, and finds love once again, in that order. It’s too bad that the title gives it away, because before she even left Italy, I found myself bored knowing I was only one-third of the way through her journey of self-indulgence. I mean, self-discovery.
Her time in Italy was spent dining out with a new set of best friends, gabbing in Italian with her mouth full, and – in a cute if superficial moment of feminist friendship – buying bigger jeans with her Swedish gal pal.
This movie got a few things right. For example, I enjoyed the characterization of the first ex. He was both charming and pathetic, and I really believed his heartbreak at the marriage ending.
Chemistry between writer Liz and the next guy – a younger actor who poorly brought her writing to the stage – was believable, but the subsequent development and deterioration of the relationship was hurried. This was likely in the interest of time. And we should feel relieved because the whole movie was a little too long.
Aside from the length, the movie suffers from some bad dialogue, so-so acting, and its fair share of unintentionally awkward and confusing moments.
Though it was very loudly (again with the awkwardness) implied that she wasn’t spending her time abroad in luxury, I still wondered where she got the money for a full year of travel with no apparent income. And this after she’d dramatically decided that her ex could take “everything” – house and all.
In one scene, an important emotional revelation by her companion at the Indian meditation centre, gruff Texan Richard, is ruined – first, by coming out of nowhere, and second, by leading the viewer to think he’s confessing to something much more tragic and shameful than he actually is.
Italy, India, and Bali - it would have been an enjoyable trip. But even the effervescent Julia Roberts couldn’t make this an enjoyable movie. From what I gather, you have the best chance of liking this movie if you have happened to have to have read and enjoyed the book. I did not read the book, and, as it happens, I did not like the movie at all. I wish I’d used that $12 instead to do my own feasting on a plate of fresh marinara spaghetti.
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I'll use this space to write about movies, bikes, communications trends, pop culture, and my adventures as a new New Yorker.