|Hollywood Feminism: Eat Pray Love … Vomit Rinse Repeat|
|Written by Ann McElhinney|
|Tuesday, 21 September 2010 23:22|
I saw Eat Pray Love over the weekend. I can’t remember the last film I walked out of but I certainly wanted to walk out of this one. I stayed because I want to know what is going in the world. I know now and it’s not good.
The cinema was half full, almost all were women.
The film is deeply depressing. I recently saw Precious, I had avoided it because I thought it would be predictable and depressing. It’s not, even with its subject matter.
However nothing in the cinema this decade has depressed me as much as Eat Pray Love’s hymn to vacuous selfishness. There are 16 year olds who have more profound insights. Talking of 16 year olds, the journey of enlightenment taken by Liz Gilbert (Julia Roberts) in the film is very reminiscent of 16 year old’s experiences; girl meets a boy, falls in love with him, gets bored, chants a bit and meets another boy, bliss.
Back to the story, Eat Pray Love is criminally dull.
In brief, a very rich 40 something woman who has EVERYTHING including the love of everyone she ever meets and a good husband and a home in the country as well as a place in Manhattan and a terrific writing career, feels sad, feels there is something missing. She sets off on a quest to find food (Italy), God (India) and Love (Indonesia) or more simply she goes off on a self indulgent holiday around the world for A YEAR.
SPOILER ALERT: She finds a new man, problem solved.
Everything about the film is superficial, from the emotional range of actress Julia Roberts’ Liz Gilbert, either a too toothful smile or tearful doe eyes, to the superficial travel brochure version of the places she visits. I worked in Italy for a wonderful year a long time ago, the Italians love food, they understand it and are very generous about it and their food is sensual. I had hoped to find some of that in EPL, it’s not there. Instead all the joys and pleasures of Italian food are reduced to heaped plates of Italian cliches, giant mounds spaghetti and pizza. The food photography is better in the Costco catalogue – unforgivable.
She journeys to India in search of God, apparently God can’t be contacted in America. That journey irritated me a lot too — it seemed so dated, so 60s, so Beatles. While she is there she be-friends a smart but terrified teenage Indian girl who is about to be married off in an arranged marriage and because this film is free from anything so mundane as a value, Ms. Gilbert offers no hope or escape for the poor girl. Cut to Ms. Gilbert resplendent in her sari attending the wedding and using the occasion to ruminate about her own wedding to someone she freely chose and who loved her dearly … I think they call that multiculturalism.
However, in Indonesia Ms. Gilbert befriends a single mother with financial issues. Bizarrely this case inspires Ms. Gilbert to intervene, she sends an email to her friends and instantly gets 18,000 dollars in the post, its so nice to be rich.
Amazing that neither the fate of the child in the arranged marriage nor the appalling poverty of India inspired any act of charity from Ms. Gilbert, but I forgot she was obsessing so much about herself she didn’t see anyone else.
One of the qualities of art and literature that make it miraculous is its ability to make us feel connected to lives lived in other times and other places. True art raises us up, inspires and ultimately makes us better people. Eat Pray Love offers none of this. Leaving the film on Saturday I felt just as disconnected from Liz Gilbert as I did from the teary-eyed Santa Monica women leaving the cinema with me.
I think I’m in trouble.
Tom Mayer said:
L. Steven Beene II said:
Marganne Winter Oxley said: