Movie Review: Eat Pray Love

Eat Pray Love should have been titled Eat Pray Be Selfish.

I don’t know why I wanted to see this movie; maybe because I knew it wouldn’t be the typical two-hour chase scene shoot-em up.  I thought it had a good chance of being a thoughtful movie.

I didn’t expect it to be  a two hour tribute to narcissism. Somehow I hoped there would be more depth to the movie than the worn-out vacuous search for self, wrapped up in an existential faux spirituality.

Julia Robert’s character, Liz, decides she’s not happy in her marriage. Her husband hasn’t been unfaithful and seems to love her. They don’t fight, and if he’s guilty of anything it’s that he doesn’t worship her.

For the first time in her life, Liz prays for guidance and the next moment she’s decided she needs to get divorced.

She then jumps right into another relationship, which doesn’t last long before she’s off to Italy to find herself and learn from the Italians how to live and enjoy life.

Next she goes to India to stay in an  ashram, where she and the others there chant and worship a picture of some Indian lady.  It’s never explained why they are worshipping the picture, and those of us who aren’t enlightened Hindus are left wondering. All I could think was, “Nice frame.”

Anyway, Liz begins to realize how selfish she’s been and how she’s hurt her husband by divorcing him, and just when we think she might see what the rest of us have been seeing for the last hour, Liz’s friend convinces Liz to forgive herself, which she is all too willing to do.

I wondered though, how could she forgive herself for allowing her selfishness to ruin another person’s life. I mean, doesn’t the fact that she needs forgiveness render her unworthy to give it? And besides that, Liz didn’t sin against herself but against her husband, whose forgiveness she never seeks in the movie. These thoughts never seem to impress themselves on our heroine, perhaps because she is too busy worshipping the picture of the Indian dame.

Well, twenty minutes later we find out how Liz was able to forgive herself. You see, Liz realizes “God dwells in me as me.”  Then I got it: because Liz is God she can forgive herself; but hold on, if Liz was God she would never have been so selfish as to walk out on her faithful husband? Maybe I was thinking too much. Maybe I should have just been chanting and looking at the picture of the Indian woman like everyone else.

Next, in Bali, Liz spends time with a toothless guru and discovers philanthropy. She gives money to a family to help them buy a house, but even that seemingly selfless act one feels Liz is doing for her own self-fullfillment. And I was wondering why she didn’t give the money to her guru so he could get his teeth fixed. This movie just didn’t add up for me.

I won’t tell you what happens next and how the movie ends because if you suffer through it to this point you deserve something for your effort.

Needless to say, I don’t really recommend this flick…unless of course you have an interest in Indian photography or Balian orthodonture. GS