Eat Pray Love

I initially wasn’t very interested in reading Eat Pray Love. I had a friend who raved about it, but I’m usually not into self discovery, self help non-fiction. When the movie came out, I decided to check it out. I was slightly more interested to see the visual interpretation. It’s a very non-committal way to see if a book sucks before investing in it. After the movie, I obviously decided to give the book a chance.

Eat Pray Love (2010). Starring Julia Roberts, Javier Bardem, and Richard Jenkins. Directed by Ryan Murphy. 133 minutes. $19.99.

I admit that I didn’t have high expectations for the movie. The critic reviews were sub-par and I’m not a big Julia Roberts fan. However, I was pleasantly surprise. The movie follows the true story of writer Elizabeth Gilbert who decides to travel for a year, after a crushing divorce and debilitating rebound relationship. She starts with Italy which is purely about pleasure with the food and the Italian language (EAT). She goes to India for her spiritual journey at an Ashram (PRAY). Her last stop in Indonesia brings her to a shaman in Bali, who she had met a couple years previously and who asked her to come back. However, she also unexpectedly finds love (LOVE).

The movie was visually beautiful as it went through every location she traveled. Italy’s art, architecture, and food. Bali’s tropic, exotic paradise. India was probably the least visually stunning but that’s because she’s at an Ashram. I understood the journey that Julia Roberts’ character was on. It reminded me of my own world traveling adventures and inspired me to want to travel again. The only scene that was odd was the flashback/day dream of her wedding day with her husband and the two of them discussing their failed marriage. Although I understood her need for closure, the scene was awkward. I wish I could just imagine a conversation that vividly and receive closure that easily.

I also decided that I love Javier Bardem. I actually never had seen him in anything before (or if I had, it didn’t make much of an impact). His character suits the exotic feeling of Bali and the surprise of finding romance between the two of them. Julia and Javier also had really good chemistry together and I believed the romance. Overall, I would rate the movie 4 out of 5 for the visual beauty of Italy and Bali with the sexiness of Javier Bardem.

After the movie, I decided I wanted to read the book. I think what I found fascinating about the movie was that it was based on a true story. When the movie was enjoyable, I decided that I wanted to know the rest of the story.

Gilbert, Elizabeth. Eat Pray Love (2006). 352 pages. Viking Adult. $24.95 (hardcover)

The book filled in all the pieces that the movie was missing. One of the big differences was the movie showed the failing of her marriage and rebound relationship. In the book, those scenes were interspersed with her travels as she explained why she was on a journey. I understood why she structured the book that way (Eat, Pray, Love. Backstory isn’t included in those 3 things), but it cut down her Italy section a lot (which is the only place I would travel to out of the 3 places she went to).

Also, India was much more boring in the book. She discussed meditation and enlightenment which was an interesting topic, but it was hard to keep my interest for over 100 pages. Bali was more fantastic. Overall, it was interesting and inspiring. It really made me miss traveling.

I really liked that it was a true story. That it ended with love like a fictional story would. That she found love when she least expected it (so much like life).

I felt that the movie was a decent visual interpretation of the book. And Javier Bardem fit his character so well in the book, that I pictured Javier in my head. If you enjoyed the movie, you should definitely read the book. If you didn’t enjoy the movie, I would still think you need to read the book. because the book is different enough that you might be able to appreciate the journey she is on more than you would appreciate the movie of it.

In a surprising twist, I would also rate the book a 4 out of 5. I really enjoyed the book, but would have preferred to have more Italy, less flashback, and less India.

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