If you are a slightly well-to-do attractive white woman struggling to find meaning to your existence and you are looking for a spiritual personal relationship with a non-intimidating non-white deity, then EAT PRAY LOVE is the movie for you.
I was really looking forward watching this movie. First, it’s a Julia Roberts movie and I have always been a Julia fan. Particularly now that she is aging gracefully and beautifully, I really have to minutely inspect her every move to find solace that the beautiful do not always end up like wasted drunkards and recovering drug addicts who need constant Botox injections to mask the lines caused by bad choices and bad romances. Ra ra ra ra ra. This is the reason why I am always first in line at the ticket booth for any Johnny Depp, Sean Penn, Meryl Streep, Hellen Mirren, Jessica Lange, Susan Sarandon and, oh dear me, Clint Eastwood movie. This is also the reason why I have vowed never to see another Tom Cruise and Renee Zellwegger movie. The last Zellwegger movie that I watched was “Case 39” and her immobile forehead was scarier than the satanic little girl.
EAT PRAY LOVE is based on a true story and so that added to my enthusiasm. At least, whatever cheesiness this film might throw at me, I know that it is real. However, midway to the film, I realized that the character played by Julia, Liz, was divinely gifted and that the gods and goddesses have blessed her with the right kind of problems and with the right kind of solutions. Being a Buddhist, I know that every journey is a personal one and we all find enlightenment in our own way. There is no prescribed path and so I was less cynical than my Christian friend who watched it with me. The film is full of clichés and you can either totally hate it or totally love it.
I, on the other hand, surrendered to good spiritual karma and suspended my disbelief. As a result, I find myself almost feeling lost like Liz when she couldn’t make her relationship work with Billy Curdup and James Franco. At the back of my mind, I was hoping that the actual book had enough substance that the film was unable to translate in visual form. In the end, I wound up enjoying this movie because I made a decision in the middle of watching the film that I would be happy no matter what. I would consciously look for the joy in every smile that Julia would make and I would laugh and blush with her. When she bit into that big pizza, I tasted it too. When she touched the elephant, I felt it too. I became Julia. Although I did not particularly like Javier Bardem in this film, but every time he appeared, I rememberd Penelope Cruz’ brilliant performance in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” and I was saved. In fact, Penelope could do wonder in this film. I imagined her character Helena, standing in a Bali bar, smoking and swearing in Spanish.
But I digress.
Bottom-line, do watch EAT PRAY LOVE if you feel you belong to the same league as Julia Roberts, otherwise, go watch a more artistically defiant film. As my friend and I left the theatre, we had this great urge to order coffee and cheesecake in Starbucks. Press our pecs close together as we order at the counter and pretend we’re Erin Brokovich. P.S. I got a bigger piece of the Toblerone Cheesecake than the customer before me. Is my Oscar on its way? I believe so. I ate, I prayed, I, well, not love, but it’s next door to love and you know what I mean.