Movie Review: Eat Pray Love

More dislikable than Johnny Borrell in a Chelsea FC shirt

Published in 2006, but on bestseller lists seemingly much longer than that, Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love is the true story travelogue of the author’s journey into Italy, India and Indonesia as she attempts to understand who she is and what she wants in the wake of a broken marriage. It’s one of those books enjoyed predominantly by women who own toe rings, read Psychologies magazine and enjoy Ani De Franco records.

Or, as I like to call them, stupid, self-absorbed, we hate poor people, might-get-a-Henna-tattoo idiots.

I’m being a touch harsh. There’s subtle nuances to the book I haven’t explained that leave you in no doubt of the good Gilbert’s physical, spiritual and emotional journey does her. Sadly, like the punctuation removed from the movies title in the transition from book to screen – few of these make it into the film.

And the film is an absolute shocker.

Primarily, the problem with Eat Pray Love is in the set up. Unlike the book, director Ryan Murphy (creator of Nip/Tuck and Glee) and co-writer Jennifer Salt (Murder She Cunting Wrote) spend little time fleshing out the character of Gilbert’s husband, played with all the depth and softness of a piece of sandpaper by Billy Crudup.

Unlike the book, Gilbert’s principal reason for leaving her man appears to be that he’s decided to leave his job and go back to college. But she appears callous for walking out the door in order to better her life when she’s leaving someone she previously loved who also wants to do just that (just with books and stuff instead of Air Miles).

But it gets worse. Gilbert is no Shirley Valentine, her husband doesn’t treat her badly, she’s well educated, she has a plush house – all soft furnishings and those stupid fucking plants that people who own art galleries in Brighton have – she has friends – I’m still looking for the straw that broke the camel having a midlife crisis here – and the film never once explains how she can afford to pack up her life and dick around the globe (or rather, it neglects to mention that Gilbert was actually a commercially successful writer who had one of her pieces turned into Coyote Ugly in 2000).

I don’t want to sound like fucking Bono, but in a world where some people can’t afford to eat, and where many don’t have a home – let alone can’t afford Prada – the movie take on Gilbert couldn’t be more thoroughly dislikable if she made a brief detour en route to Indonesia and did a shit in the mouth of an African child.

So it’s a good job she’s played by Julia Roberts, eh? I mean, nobody dislikes Julia Roberts. She’s got such wonderful teeth! She looks like she could bite through the Golden Gate Bridge and still look ravishing at dinner! She’s so pretty! Well, you could have cast my mum in the lead role and I still would have despised her every eyelash flutter. I could make a Top 20 list of scenes in the film that made me despise the existence of the human race, but instead I’m going to Google some pictures of bunny rabbits to stop myself from committing a murder. Still, the bit in the segment in Italy where she comes to “value the taste of real spaghetti” is beyond loathable.

In many ways I don’t even consider Eat Pray Love a film. I see it as more akin to a very well made travel brochure (begrudgingly I’d admit the cinematography is outstanding) adapted for the screen. But what I do consider it to be is ethically void, morally corrupt, with shit for brains and no understanding of the world outside of its own head. It’s like going on an episode of Come Dine With Me with the cast of Loose Women EVERY NIGHT FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE, or being trapped inside the verse of a Tori Amos song.

Eat Pray Love is going to be number one at the box office for months. It’s going to be a massive deal. And each and every one of you who enjoys it is going to Hell.

James McMahon