“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.