Friday, August 27, 2010

Film on Friday: Eat Love Pray

Silhouette Desire and Harlequin Historical author Charlene Sands goes to see the Julia Roberts movie Eat Love Pray

I admit that when this book came out I fully intended to read it. The title alone intrigued me. But lo and behold, time passed and my TBR list grew longer as I was swamped with the every day job of writing, myself.

But the movie trailers and Julia Roberts’ contagious smile on the screen, along with a cast that included hotties, James Franco and Javiar Bardem, made me break my one cardinal rule to READ the book first, before SEEING the movie.

How bad could it be? The cinematography alone had to be worth the price of my matinee admission. And yes it certainly was. There were times in the film when I wish I could have closed my eyes and just been there. The locales were shot with beauty and grace; sunsets and early dawns, hilltop views of Italy, stunning costumes of India and glistening waters in Bali. Big skies, cluttered streets, scrumptious food.

I enjoy studying human nature. I love complex characters and for that reason, I’m really glad I went to see this movie. Though ladies, this movie begs to leave your man at home. It’s slow and melodramatic at times.

While Julia Roberts’ character, Liz is based on the author, Elizabeth Gilbert’s search for and discovery of balance in her life after a divorce, it was hard for me to relate to Liz. Her “problems” in the movie seemed trivial, maybe a little self-contrived and too indulgent, as well. The book was deemed a romantic comedy per se, and while there were funny moments in the Italian scenes, along with mouth-watering food, I think the movie missed where the book apparently did not. Heck, The Oprah Show spent two weeks on the virtues and lessons from this book.

Eat in Italy

Pray in India

Love in Bali

I loved the concept and the stories told within the story of Elizabeth Gilbert’s journey were fascinating to see evolve. In Italy, Liz learns to simply enjoy food and life. To hell with worrying about the “pillow top” above our jeans, EAT the food and savor the experience! You don’t miss the metaphor.

Her breakthrough with Richard in India I found most refreshing. I actually cried. The author clearly didn’t go with the cliché plot points and for me that made the entire PRAY segment of the movie worthwhile. (No spoilers here)

And in Bali, Liz finally comes full circle, though like any true romance, she takes the long, dark-moment road to get there. Javiar Bardem’s character is unique to romance. He shows a vulnerability that we don’t often see in our Alpha males. I found him genuine and again, I cried …well, a little and really felt the LOVE.

So, if you like great scenery, Julia Roberts or a really good study of characters and different cultures, then I would recommend it. I’m glad I saw it, though I will say that it’s not for everyone, as the movie gets a bit too self-indulgent at times. Yet for me and from a writer’s perspective, I always learn something valuable in any story. My only regret - I wish I’d read the book first!

Have you seen the movie? I’m curious if you enjoyed it or not?

Charlene Sands is a USA Today best-selling author. She writes Silhouette Desires and Harlequin Historical romances. Her August Desire THE BILLIONAIRE’S BABY ARRANGEMENT is a Romantic Times Magazine’s Top Pick. You can see all the books in her Napa Valley Vows series and enter her ongoing contests at:


  1. Thanks for this review. I'm looking forward to seeing this film although I'll probably have to wait for it to come out on BluRay/DVD. I'm now going to search out the book while I'm waiting. : )

  2. I liked the book better than the movie. Our book club went together after reading the book and felt the India section was not as strong. But I did love it for the reasons you mention.

  3. Hi Susan,
    I think that's a wise plan. It'll be awhile before the movie comes out on DVD. And I heard the book was very inspiring. Thanks for stopping by!!

  4. Hi Julie - I would imagine the book club members would enjoy the book better. It's rare that the movie outdoes the book in any genre. But it was sort of infectious to watch, in good way!

  5. My mom actually got my dad to go see this movie. I was so surprised. They enjoyed it. Even dad. LOL I don't really know anything about the book. Hadn't heard of it until the movie came out, but I'll see it because I'm a fan of Julia's. But I'll rent it in case I need to fast forward through the slow parts. I like my movies like I like my books. Entertaining with a good pace and little melodrama. :)

  6. JR movies are either hit or miss for me. Either I love them and can watched them repeatedly, or I hate them. And once I even hated one that I ended up liking after reading the screenplay for a class and watching again: Erin Brocovich.

    So, while the previews don't really entice me, I'll probably watch it when it comes out on DVD. When my WIP in finished, I'm going to see The Expendables!

  7. Hi Charlene, well, you know how much I love Notting Hill LOL so I'm sure I'll get around to seeing this JR movie. I haven't read the book either for just the reasons you mentioned. But I am a visual person, so glorious scenery would be a good thing to see.

  8. Hi Ally - Well, your dad is one great sensitive guy. If you like melodrama and a good pace, you will like it. You'll get wrapped in the characters - at least I did-the movie was a little long, so I think they could have shortened it to pick up the pace, yet the relationships between the people she met might have been lost if they did. Hard to know

    Tanya - you'll like this movie. Don't know if your hubby will though. Thanks for stopping by!! I know how busy you are!

    Cher- the Expendables was okay for me and I'm a huge fan of most of those actors. I guess you could say it was Over The Top and predictable, but I'm glad I saw it. At least the guys know they are over the hill, and don't try to act like they aren't. Except for Jason Statham. He's HOT and much younger!

  9. I haven't read the book-yet-it's in my TBR pile, but I did see the movie recently and loved it! In so many ways, Julia Roberts' character could have been me. I related so strongly to her, which made the movie that much more poignant for me. And I absolutely fell in love with Javier Bardem.
    I wouldn't have taken my b/f with me, but for me, and the two women I saw it with, it was filled with little epiphanies. Now I MUST read the book to really dig into those ideas about life and self-perception I want to explore more deeply.
    Wonderful review, Charlene!

  10. I'm probably one of the two people in the world who wasn't mesmerized with the book! and haven't been enticed to see this movie, which some said the subtitle should have been "Me! Me! Me!", but you have intrigued me with this review, and like so many others have said already, I'll probably rent the DVD one night when hubby is doing something else.

  11. I thought the book was good, it had many insightful moments, and most women could relate on one level or another, however, I never did finish it so maybe even it was a bit too slow for me.

    I saw the movie with a gal pal who adored it, and while there were moments of enjoyment, wonderful scenery, and cinematography, etc., I thought it lacked story. It's a perfect example of being unable to transpose some written work into film. When the book is based a lot on internal thought and motivation it's hard to capture that on the screen, in a book you can go deep into character POV and show that.

    JR cried a bit too much for my liking. I even started rolling my eyes at one point. Ha ha. I agree with you though, Charlene, the best part of the movie was in Bali. I adored JB's character. And the romance was believable.

  12. Hi Eden, Robena and Lynne - Thanks for your thoughts!!

    I have heard some people say they couldn't make it thru the book. The PRAY part was too long and drawn out. But it's so subjective.

    I think you'll like the movie, Eden!

  13. Ugh! I threw the book across the room. As you said, I could not relate to such a whiney woman. I never even got to her eating or praying or loving. I just could not take her incessant whining! I am a sap for cinematography though - especially of those places I would like to visit!

    Thanks for the review!

    Maggi G.

  14. The Italian eating scenes did not do the food justice believe it or not. Naples is the pizza haven of the 'Margerita' (Cheese, tommato with a sprig of basil) pizza and is worth the train ride from Rome, but this version looked a bit greasy--which it is definitely not! *such a ridiculous mini plot point*
    I am one who went without having yet read the book. I have started the book and can not comment as of yet on the whiny-ness, but as for the film--the whole point of it I felt was to validate a woman's need/desire to dive internally, whether through travel or simply self reflection (as the author states at the end and most people seem to miss). Most women come to a place and time in their lives when they reevaluate the status of their lives. It does not mean you have to dump your hubby/bf, but it does require some private reflection and the ability to believe that you are worth the time and effort to do this. Of course we all don't have the money or luxury to spend a year abroad, but we all do have the ability to look at who we are and where we are going--self love before we are capable of being the richly giving women we can be.
    Perhaps this theme would have come across more poignantly if JR's character were not more afflunet than most. Does it really take a down and out woman to speak to a generation? Perhaps. I, for one, was able to see past her affluence to the theme beneath. Love yourself enough to spend internal time reflecting and external time enjoying your life! More women could well benefit and enrich their lives if they stopped going round and round in the day to day rat race to ---smell the margerita pizza.
    Thanks for the review, Charlene

    Christine London

  15. I haven't been able to finish the book and I've picked it up several times. I think the problem is that the big Oprah push was the book was "good for me," and "would teach me stuff." I have a hard and difficult time with those types of expectations shoved onto a book.

    I haven't seen the movie yet because all my friends already went and saw it (boo hoo). I guess I am just going to have to go by myself! You have made me want to go see it despite the self-indulgent and possibly whiny tone!