Ever-Changing Reflection

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding... It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self. Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy in silence and tranquility.
~ Kahlil Gibran

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Does watching "Eat Pray Love" compare to reading it?

I have been anxiously awaiting this movie all year, since I saw Elizabeth Gilbert on Oprah promoting it. So, I took myself to see it Sunday afternoon.

I read the book in October 2008, while on a cruise from Boston to Bermuda. I am not exaggerating when I say this book changed my life. I will hold it dear always, and I am sure I will read it over and over, every time I need hope or motivation or perspective.

So, I was thrilled the book was being made into a movie, and when I found out Julia Roberts -- my favorite actress -- was starring as Liz Gilbert, that sealed the deal.

Julia was absolute perfection in this movie. As soon as I found out she was the leading lady, I was happy to be able to see her in a new movie, but I immediately though about the resemblance between her and Liz.

Not only do they both have infectious smiles and alluring eyes, but they have uncontrollable hair, a slightly pointed nose and a slim frame. They are both intelligent, motivated, kind, independent women, who may not always know what they want in life but somehow end up there. No one else on Earth was better suited to play Elizabeth Gilbert than Julia Roberts, besides Elizabeth Gilbert herself.

The leading lady wasn't the only perfect casting job in this movie either. Her men were chosen very well...

James Franco played the perfect David: young, sexy, intriguing, slightly aloof. The young stud to Julia's broken divorcee, the perfect man to shack up with post-divorce. He and Julia had great chemistry at the beginning of their relationship, but you could quickly see it wasn't right. He was a segue, a stepping stone, a learning experience. Liz's relationship with David was probably the only relationship in the film I felt was properly addressed and flushed out.

Richard from Texas was not my favorite character in the book, but he served an important role in Liz's development at the ashram in India. Richard Jenkins was exactly how I pictured Richard in the book, and he was magnificent. I regretted that he didn't have a larger role, though... the pivotal role he played in the book was introduced, but you would never have "got it" if you hadn't read the book. 

In fact, Liz's stay at the ashram was not given justice at all in film format. Yes, it was probably the most "boring" part of the movie, but, in the book, this was such a crucial time for her. Rome was Liz's time to physically heal herself and separate herself from her divorce. India was the point in the book when Liz worked on herself, rediscovered herself as a human and someone to love and be loved.

Liz's adventures in India, in the film, ended with a brief clip of her as the hostess at the ashram, without any detail as to how she performed in this role -- another key happening in the book.

Lastly, Javier Bardem was a super sexy Felipe; he nailed the Brazilian romantic to the wall. He was Mr. Rico Suave with a quirky, lovable streak. He plays like a school boy, which fit Liz's playful personality, but yet he was older, more experienced and traveled, which was much better suited to Liz's new world view than someone like David. Felipe was the end of Liz's abstinence and the end of her solo journey. He was the beginning of the rest of her life, and you got glimpses of this in the movie, but again, I wanted more. 

That was the theme of this movie: more. It was almost three hours, but it wasn't enough. I felt the scenes chosen were well selected and portrayed Liz's physical journey, but they didn't even scrape the surface of her internal journey. It didn't even delve deeply into the whole reason behind the trip: her breakdown and divorce from her husband. Most of her relationships in the movie were presented a bit superficially, and you wouldn't feel her attachment to these people unless you read the book. I was especially disappointed in the portrayal of her relationship with Wayan, the Balinese healer. It was so... abbreviated. You could tell they were friends, but you didn't get to see how much they truly bonded.

I went to see this movie alone as something to do while Jed was out of town (and I knew he would never go see it anyway). I thought about calling a girlfriend to go with me, but it just felt right going solo... just like Liz. I wanted to be free to laugh, cry, ponder in solitude without considering a person sitting next to me. I wasn't sure how I was going to react, and I wanted to be able to experience it and reflect in silence after.

I was glad I went alone. I teared up a little. I laughed quite a bit (even at moments when no one else in the theater did). And, I reflected in silence the whole drive home.

Even though the movie was not half as good as the book, it does make you think, and I would recommend it.

I came out of the theater feeling hopeful, happy, confident, uncertain and grateful... just like I did when I finished the book.

Grateful that...
  • ... the world is overwhelmingly beautiful and curious, full of limitless knowledge, possibility and love.
  • ... I was raised in a society where I am free to be the woman I want to be, the woman that I am.
  • ... I am surrounded by family and friends who love and support me.
  • ... the future is bright, despite uncertainty.
  • ... travel is an option for me. I am truly blessed to be able to see and experience different places.

{Image credits: movie poster and Javier and Julia via Empire Movies, Julia at Thanksgiving via Celebrity Wonder, Liz-Julia comparison via, Julia and James via FilmoFilia, Richard and Julia via FilmoFilia, Julia in Rome via Watch Movies Online Site, Julia in Bali via Deceiver}


Kristen said...

I agree... 100%. I enjoyed the movie but it didn't do the book justice. Julia was phenomenal, Javier Bardem was perfection... but you didn't really understand why she was doing all of this. How much she gave UP to do it... and how much her life changed. But the scenery and the acting was worth it- I might reread the book now just to put it all together.

Shannon said...

I just started reading the book and I'm about 100 pages in. I've heard so many good things about it and I do really like it. I'll probably watch the movie on Netflix.

Alicia said...

awesome review! i haven't seen the movie yet but i loved the description! that's so awesome that it has so much meaning for you... i love having books that just change us... i have one of those myself :)s