Movie Review from one who’s read the book: “Eat, Pray, Love”

“Eat, Pray, Love”, a wonderful book written by Elizabeth Gilbert, has recently been made into a movie.  I listened to the book on tape last summer, read by the author, and I liked it alot, as did millions of others.  Last night I watched the movie on DVD while curled up in my big warm bed.  Having read the book, I found the movie to be annoying. 

Julia Roberts.  I can’t stop looking at her upper lip and her eyebrows.  They just look odd to me.  These distracting features disappear when she smiles, but she doesn’t do a whole lot of smiling in this movie.  She looked the same throughout the movie: gaunt, stressed, uncertain, and wearing a ponytail.  If she had read the book she would have realized that her character goes through a spiritual and personal transformation that causes her Balinese friend Kitut to not recognize her after a two year separation.  She gets happier as the book progresses; less stressed, more grounded, enlightened.  In the movie Julia looks and acts the same throughout.  Surely there are more deserving female leads out there who could have done more with this role, or a director to help bring these qualities out.

There were other details I found distracting and stupid, pieces that strayed unnecessarily from the book.  In the book she is run off the road by a bus, in the movie she is run off the road by her future husband.  Throughout her stay in Bali she tries to help Katut with his English, as he requested on her earlier visit.  He greets her each day with “nice to meet you”.  She tries to explain the difference between “nice to meet you” and “nice to see you”.  It’s funny, he never gets it.  It would have been cute in the movie, but they don’t use it.  Also, the author collects money from her western friends to build a home for a healer whom she befriends.  In the movie the home gets built immediately, with no problems.  In the book it takes forever due to very interesting cultural beliefs held by the recipient of the money.  This same healer cures her twice in the book, both times from serious infections.  They quickly glance over this in the movie.  The movie shows the future husband delivering a hangover cure to Julia from this healer, something that never happens in the book.  Also, the healer has a biological daughter and two adopted daughters.  In the movie, only one daughter is depicted.  In the movie it feels like the year she spent traveling went by in about 2 weeks.  In the book it feels like a year.

The book was about her spiritual awakening, which I found very moving.  Not much about that in the movie.  The character she meets in India, “Richard from Texas”, was more endearing and important in the book.  He said funny yet profound things in the book, not so much in the movie.  Also, there was no fancy Indian wedding in the book, but there’s one in the movie.

Oh well.  I should know better than to hope for more from Hollywood.  The movie does not do justice to the book.

So read the book, or listen to it on tape while you fold laundry, and pass on the movie.

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About Zahara

gardener, cyclist, student, mom,
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14 Responses to Movie Review from one who’s read the book: “Eat, Pray, Love”

  1. Most enjoyable tape of author reading was Dylan Thomas reading his poetry. His voice is like musical accompaniment to lyrics.

    • Zahara says:

      Carl, what a timely comment. I am just discovering that I love poetry. My English professor is having an effect on me, she is nurturing our love of the story by feeding us some wonderful literature. I will look for Dylan Thomas for sure. Thanks.

  2. Thanks for this. I read the book and loved it, was wondering if the movie would annoy me. You’ve saved me from ruining the great memories of the book.

    • Zahara says:

      Glad you enjoyed the book, too. Alot of people will only see the movie and walk away with the wrong impression of the book and it’s author. Then again, maybe those who haven’t read it will like it somehow. It must be difficult to translate the unseeable from book to movie.

  3. I’ve got this book. It’s been in my house for a long time and I just can’t get myself to read it! your report is consistent w others I’ve received yet I don’t know why that book can’t get read! I think it’s the cover. bores the heck out of me. i feel so shallow. 🙂 I’ll try again. thanks for the lovely blog-post. keep on!

    • Zahara says:

      Hello Sana, thanks for reading. I put it off for a while, too, cause it was so darn popular. White girl travels for a year, so what? It can be a bit whiny at times in the beginning, but bear with it, I found it to be a worthwhile read.

  4. I felt the same way about My Sister’s Keeper….sad part of it is I was a Telecommunication/Media Major in College.

    I will stick to the books for now….
    You must MUST read the book The Time Traveler’s wife….It will shamelessly put you to tears. What a moving story…the movie was not so good in my eyes. It was rather disappointing. 😦

    Guess you can’t win them all!

  5. Hippie Cahier says:

    This is how I used to know when a student had rented a movie instead of reading, say, The Scarlet Letter.

    I haven’t read the book or seen the movie. I didn’t think I’d like the book because I didn’t think I had much in common with those who recommended it. I’ll give it a shot now. Your review makes it interesting.

    • Zahara says:

      I think it is extra special to hear an author read their own work, and I do alot of driving, so listening to it on tape was great. I also recently listened to “Prodigal Summer” read by Barbara Kingsolver – what a treat!

  6. Juanita says:

    I have just finished the book and was in Bali when they were filming the movie. I really enjoyed the book and can relate to the Balinese mentality she experienced. About to go and get the follow up “Commited” have you read this?
    Also how do you get your hands on the author read tapes?

    • Zahara says:

      Cool! I was in Bali for 5 weeks back in 1995, it is such a nice place. I have not read “Committed”, no time lately. I got the book on tape at the library. Author-read books on tape are nice to find, unfortunately, not all authors are the ones who read their books, It says it on the jacket. I recently read Barbara Kingsolver’s “Prodigal Summer”, read by her, on tape, it is awesome.

  7. glad to have found this review, I have not rented the movie but plan to after Christmas. I loved the book.

    I came across a blog the other day with a lot of people who were writing they didn’t like the book. That kind of surprised me because I couldn’t stop reading it once I started. Maybe it’s because I could relate so much to the story so much, I’ve been to India and can’t or won’t get Italy out of my system.

    I thank you for this honest review. okay so if this movie is a bust I’ll just look at that Javier Bardem. I have a movie star crush on him. 🙂

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