Liz Gilbert, played by Julia Roberts, is a traveler. While her friends are planning families and settling into their relationships, Liz never feels settled in that mold. Finding herself unhappy in her marriage and subsequent relationship, Liz sets off on an amazing journey through three countries with the goal of finding herself.
Inspired by a prophecy from a Balinese healer she had met in the past, Liz visits Italy, India, and finally finds her way back to the healer in Bali, Indonesia. "Eat Pray Love," based on Elizabeth Gilbert's memoir, chronicles Liz's journey to her true self and the interesting people she meets and places she sees along the way.
While the scenery of the movie is stunning, it's the characters Liz meets along the way that make this movie worth seeing. Each country has a few stand-outs. In America, it's Delia (Viola Davis), Liz's friend and new mom, who doesn't disappoint with practical advice to her flighty friend. In Italy, it's Luca Spaghetti (Giuseppe Gandini), a Roman gentleman who teaches Liz how to indulge and live in the moment. In India, it's Richard (Richard Jenkins), a Texan with big opinions and broad wisdom about forgiveness and God. In Bali, it's Ketut Liyer (Habi Subiyanto), a Yoda-like medicine man with a keen sense of humor and a smile that reaches down into his liver.
Each of these characters shares their own brand of wisdom with quips too clever not to savor, including one from Ketut: "You must keep your feet grounded so firmly on the earth that it's like you have four legs, instead of two. That way, you can stay in the world. But you must stop looking at the world through your head. You must look through your heart, instead." And a quote from Delia that can only be truly appreciated by parents: "Having a baby is like getting a tattoo on your face; you kind of want to be committed."
For the age-old question asked of all books translated to the big screen, the standard answer rings true: the book was better. Much of the detailed cultural and historical context that Gilbert so beautifully includes in her memoir is lost in the movie. More disappointing, many of the amazing people Liz befriends on her journey simply didn't get the opportunity to share their wisdom on the big screen.
Those that criticized the book for being self-indulgent and over-dramatic (it's not like Liz was depressed following a loss or major trauma -- she just hadn't "found herself"), will probably feel the same about the movie. However, "Eat Pray Love" still makes for a great girls night out flick, sure to spark a lively after-the-movie discussion.
"Eat Pray Love" is rated PG-13 for strong language, sexual references and rear male nudity.