Eat Pray Love

Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5
 

Time Out says

Posted: Mon Aug 16 2010

No one is going into the breezy movie version of Elizabeth Gilbert's globe-trotting empowerment memoir expecting it to be Siddhartha---and if they are, they're being unfair. This is expertly wrought pop-psychology; perfect plates of pasta will be consumed in Rome (to nourish a wounded heart), then the soul will be tended in an Indian ashram, and finally romance will flourish in sultry Bali. In the context of this summer's other lunkheaded fantasies, is that really so offensive?

No one is going into the breezy movie version of Elizabeth Gilbert's globe-trotting empowerment memoir expecting it to be Siddhartha---and if they are, they're being unfair. This is expertly wrought pop-psychology; perfect plates of pasta will be consumed in Rome (to nourish a wounded heart), then the soul will be tended in an Indian ashram, and finally romance will flourish in sultry Bali. In the context of this summer's other lunkheaded fantasies, is that really so offensive?

So, like a bad nutritionist, I'm less concerned with what goes into Eat Pray Love than what comes out of it. First and foremost is Julia Roberts, who, even though she never seems to gain weight, flatters Gilbert's divorce with a gloriously complex performance---to these eyes, her best. Roberts has a movie star's size, which she constantly underplays, curling into balls of insecurity and lifting her wine glass in tear-rimmed ruefulness. Even if you know where this story is going (how could you not?), it's rare when Hollywood indulges such a robust woman's picture, neither a glossy Sex and the City 2 nor a cryptic, Indiewood Winter's Bone. Rather, here's a vehicle that could have been driven by yesteryear's Faye Dunaway or Gena Rowlands.

All of the performances are knockouts, especially The Visitor's Richard Jenkins as a damaged Texas spiritualist who steeps the movie in intimacy. Oh, to have Julia's choices: crushed ex-husband Billy Crudup (slow-dancing with her to "Harvest Moon"), cute yogi James Franco, the Bali-dwelling Javier Bardem. The movie is completely aware of its own riches; it fills up your plate and dares you not to eat.---Joshua Rothkopf

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