Movie Review: Is Julia Roberts and Nice Scenery Enough?

Eat Pray Love

Based on the best-selling memoir of the same name by Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Pray Love explores the life of a writer who leaves her unhappy marriage -- and temporarily her country -- to rediscover herself again while abroad. Julia Roberts is excellent in her first lead role since 2009's Duplicity. Too bad the story is not as riveting.

Starting on a wrong note, we never really learn why the writer's marriage was so terrible. So, it's a bit tough to cheer her on as she takes on her overseas personal journey. Her jaunt is split into three overly drawn-out stops in Rome (where she eats a lot), India (where she prays and meditates a lot) and Bali (where she unexpectedly finds love again). Along the way, she is inspired by the varied cultures and unique people she comes across. And I guess we're supposed to be equally inspired by her insights. But the main problem is -- how many of us can just drop everything after a life-changing moment and spend a year abroad? Consequently, it's hard to relate. Maybe the female viewers can at least relate to the introspection angle more than this guy blogger? I don't know.

There's a great supportive cast here that include Billy Crudup (Watchmen), James Franco (Milk), Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men, Vicky Cristina Barcelona), Richard Jenkins (The Visitor) and the tragically-underused Viola Davis (Doubt). But their performances are not enough to overcome the "so what" feeling you're likely to be left with after sitting through this flat adaptation. I base my minimal recommendation on a winning performance by Roberts, some visually-stunning scenery and a strong soundtrack which includes Eddie Vedder's new song, "Better Days." Directed by Ryan Murphy (Running with Scissors), who also co-wrote the screenplay with Gilbert and Jennifer Salt. [Rated PG-13; opens today]

Grade: B-


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