Eat Pray Love is a treat for fans of the book but leaves newcomers to the material in the mood for something else.
If you're a dude or one of the many readers who found Elizabeth Gilbert to be a whiny, self-indulgent yuppie, the film adaptation of "Eat Pray Love" could probably be re-titled "Sit Bored Leave."
But if you count yourself among the millions of fans who fell in love with one of Oprah's favorite thiiiiings, Gilbert's uber bestselling memoir of the journey she took after her marriage fell apart, then this film is as highly anticipated as a new "Twilight" flick is for a 15-year-old who shops at Hot Topic.
Starring Julia Roberts and directed by "Glee" creator Ryan Murphy, the story moves from Italy (Eat) to an ashram in India (Pray) to a village in Bali (Love), all the while featuring halo-lighting and soft focus on Julia, who has never looked more ravishing, and Murphy’s blatant cinematic subtext.
In Italy, he focuses on the mouth, with lusty shots of slurped spaghetti marinara, couples kissing and rolled r's tripping off the tongue; India translates into shots of hands clasped in prayer, hands eating, hands clapping, hands scrubbing; and in Bali, where Liz becomes whole, the camera pulls away, taking in Roberts' entire being and the world around her with soaring shots reminiscent of Yann Arthus-Bertrand's photographs in the coffee table tome, The Earth From Above. You can't accuse Murphy of being a discreet visual storyteller but purists should be pleased to see that he sticks pretty faithfully to the road map of the book, though that becomes both a help and a hindrance.
Gilbert's inner monologue, which, of course, drives the narrative of her book, often becomes either expository voiceover or lingering shots of Roberts gazing beatifically into a sunset here, neither of which are very engaging. The few times Murphy veers off-course, striking out into new territory, the film hits upon some of its best moments, such as when Elizabeth confronts and makes peace with the guilt she feels about divorcing her husband (Billy Crudup in a small but well delivered role) on a rooftop in India. Thankfully, one of the book's most beloved characters, Richard from Texas, not only remains intact but is brilliantly rendered by Richard Jenkins in a scene-stealing performance.
While it can be difficult to sympathize with a woman spending a year frolicking across the globe, having liaisons with Billy Crudup, James Franco (as her post divorce rebound fling) and Javier Bardem (the man who inspires the Love portion of the story), you'll nonetheless walk out craving pizza, passion and plane travel.
Though not necessarily a second helping of the film itself.