Watch “Eat Pray Love” Learn
By Jon Kratzner
Forgive my using the old adage but, “be careful what you wish for; you just might get it.”
“Eat Pray Love” is a sobering look at what may have happened after Julia Roberts’ other roles get the guy. Things don’t always turn out as happily-ever-after as thought. When we meet Julia Roberts’ character she’s happily married to Billy Crudup. Or is she? To quote, “The only thing more impossible than leaving was staying.” Roberts harkens back to the independent modern woman she conjured in “Mona Lisa Smile” and cannot stay committed. Roberts’ character is restless and needs to travel. She feels trapped as the role of the traditional housewife. This is a notion that is still strong in America as well as the rest of the world. In order to be of any use to anyone she finds she needs to be a little bit selfish and takes a year off.
In that year she visits Italy to become a linqua-/gastro-phile and immerses herself in the language, food, and culture of Italy. Next, she visits India to study with a religious meditation leader. In Bali she revisits a medicine man who predicted her journey of rediscovery. The premise of the last leg of her journey starts out as “Eat Pray Learn” or even “Eat Pray Pray Again.” Things change when Roberts (literally) runs into someone who may or may not help her believe in love again.
The movie flirts with the kind of heaviness found in “Hope Floats” or risks being lumped in the Chick Flick genre. It’s saved because the goal is essentially different from those movies. Those movies can focus on how worthless the woman feels without a man. This, honesty, is a turn off to guys (unless they are that guy). Chick Flicks focus on the acquisition of someone. Where this movie redeems itself is in the journey. It focuses on being free, letting go. In Italy, Roberts learns to let go of her hang ups over being embarrassed and getting fat. In Indian, Roberts tries to let go of her guilt and find enlightenment. Bali’s goal could have been wisdom or continue with enlightenment, but it turns into a deeper lesson in love.
Throughout Roberts’ journey she always finds a wise guide to help her through and teach her lessons. The movie does a very good job keeping them grounded without getting too heavy or saccharin. While Roberts is attempting to be free she inadvertently discovers she is also never alone. Her guide in India, Robert Jenkins, comes right out of the background and gives a small but solid performance that watered many-an-eye in the theatre.