Friday, October 8, 2010

Julia Roberts Plays A Brat in "Eat, Pray, Love"

How do you relate to someone who seems to have everything in life, except contentment? There was nothing in Liz Gilbert's (Julia Roberts) story that merited sympathy, thus I found it hard to be stirred by her "woes" as a woman. Here she is, with a great job as a travel writer, a cute and gainfully employed husband (Billy Crudup) who takes time to converse with her; affectionate friends - and everything else seems to be going for her. One night, she surprises her husband Stephen that she's flying to Aruba... with him. But he wasn't interested. That same night, as they lie in bed. She mopes. He tells her, "I don't wanna go to Aruba." She replies, "I don't want to be in this marriage." WTF! She doesn't get her way, and she files for divorce.

A few weeks later, she meets a charming actor, David (James Franco). They play house soon there after, a preoccupation she seems to adapt with ease. But hey, she realizes that she actually wants to marvel at something so after the opportunity to shag David for several months, she decides to move on and drop everything else, fly to Rome and eat all the pasta margherita while mastering how to order from an authentic Italian menu. Four months after Rome, she joins an ashram in India to find herself, her balance. And I didn't even realize there was any form of imbalance from what I've seen of her life so far.

Finally, she ends her year by learning the inanities of Balinese life from a 9th generation magic man. She meets a Brazilian trader from Australia (yup, all the ridiculous references) who almost run her over while she was biking her miserable life away. When she finally connects with him, she once again flies away to "find her balance". Bwahaha!

Now tell me, how can you even give this scatterbrain spoiled brat an iota of sympathy from how she's been creating the problems that she pretends to grieve over? She hooks up with men then makes their lives as miserable as hers - only, she is able to fly halfway across the world to mend her own undoing.

Julia Roberts is a great actress. I say that with utmost sincerity. She lights up the screen with earnest vitality. Unfortunately for her, she failed to recognize the banality of a character as vacuous as Liz Gilbert. That Ms. Gilbert flaunts her thousand-and-one uncertainties through a brilliantly-written novel (from which this movie was based) is a testament of her imperious ego. The result: Julia gets lambasted by critics for the brattiness of her character. Julia looks ravishing all throughout, and the men are particularly sympathetic. Richard Jenkins ("The Visitor") is amazing as the Texan gentleman who lost his family from boozing. The side stories are actually compelling, and the use of these exotic places makes you wanna fly and do your own adventure in Rome, India and Bali. If only the narrative crowned its story with a fitting character worthy of our compassion. Instead, I wanted to learn how to use a slingshot and practice aiming at her.

I didn't realize this was directed by Ryan Murphy, creator and director of that little known TV show called "Glee".

Billy Crudup

James Franco

Javier Bardem

Luca Argentero plays Giovanni, Liz's Italian-language tutor.


Dempsey Sanders said...

I think this is a case of 'its nowhere near as good as the novel' again. I love Julia, thats what makes me want to see it, but with all the reviews being somewhat on the negative side, it makes me want to hold out until its on TV. Great and fair review yet again Cathy

Cathy P. said...

One of the advantages of watching this is how it captures the grandeur of these places, including the romantic and craggy old "forgotten" world charm of portions of Rome. Other than that, there're really the National Geographic and Discovery Channel for that. I love Julia - and scoff at people who keep bashing her in discussion boards. I love that she's a celebrity, that doesn't turn me off about her at all.

Anonymous said...

Javier Bardem! Javier Bardem!

Cathy P. said...

I'm a fan of Bardem even way before he made it big in Hollywood. I remember Bigas Luna's "The Tit & the Moon" and Barroso's "Extasis". Then there's Pedro Almodovar's "Live Flesh" and so on. He is undoubtedly Spain's ultimate superstar. In "Eat Pray Love" however, he wasn't as charming as I hoped he'd be. There was something off with his chemistry with Julia Roberts.