Based on Elizabeth Gilbert’s autobiographical book, the 2010 Eat Pray Love movie has become one of the top films people talk about when looking for travel inspiration. The movie was so popular that women became desperate to re-create Gilbert’s stories by leaving behind their lives to re-trace and reinvent themselves. This movie is quite an inspiration as it shows the power of travel for self-betterment. But what is this movie all about really?
Eat Pray Love tells the story of Liz Gilbert (Julia Roberts) who had everything she wanted in life. She is a successful New York writer who is loved by all. But now that she is divorced and at a turning point in her life, she is confused about where to and how to start again. Unable to find her “inner balance,” she abandons it all to travel the world for a year and find herself to eat, pray, and love along the way. This is a chance for her to step out of her comfort zone and embark on a quest of self-discovery. Read on to know more about the three-stop worldwide tour of Liz Gilbert through Italy, India, and Bali.
Genre – Drama, Romance
Original Language – English
Based On – Book Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
Director – Ryan Murphy
Producer – Dede Gardner
Release Date (Theaters) – Aug 13, 2010
Release Date (Streaming) – Nov 23, 2010
Box Office – $205 Million
Runtime – 2h 20m
Distributor – Sony Pictures Entertainment
Sound Mix – Dolby Digital, DTS, SDDS
[WARNING: Spoilers Ahead]
Table of Contents
Eat Pray Love: EAT (Italy)
First up, we get “EAT,” as Liz dutifully wolfs her way through lots of delicious food in Rome, and in doing so learns to enjoy life with the help of another tourist (Tuva Novotny), and an Italian language coach (Luca Argentero). She spends all her time in Italy searching for beauty and exploring Italian food. The camera lingers lovingly on heaping plates of pasta and pizza, enough to make everyone ravenous. Just try not to laugh at the scene where reed-thin Roberts and the equally slender Novotny struggle to get into their ‘large’ jeans while agreeing to continue enjoying pizza, even if they do get muffin tops in the process. Filming cast and crew were so touched and inspired by the warmth that they actually added a scene in Naples (at Naples’s most beautiful churches, Pio Monte della Misericordia).
Suggested Reads: 6 Reasons Why You Should Visit Italy
Eat Pray Love: PRAY (India)
The film’s second stop is at an unnamed Indian ashram, where we get the “PRAY” portion of the Eat Pray Love movie. It is at an ashram in India that she learnt to pray and had a closer connection to God. Her stay here forced her to confront the emotional baggage she carried. Here, Liz meets ‘Richard from Texas’ (Richard Jenkins) who (after some resistance of course) helps her overcome her struggles with meditation, and shows her how to forgive herself – though for what remains a bit unclear. Perhaps all the pasta she ate in Italy? However, most aspects of the time in India are reduced to stereotypes and clichés, from the girl who doesn’t want an arranged marriage, to not touching the bottle of ‘Thums Up’.
Also Read: 8 Places To Explore True Indian Spirituality
Eat Pray Love: LOVE (Bali)
The third section, “LOVE,” takes Liz to Bali, where we meet the toothless guru Ketut. He helps Liz find a balance between the loving life from Italy and the spirituality from India. But really, it’s about her falling in love with the irresistible Brazilian divorcee Felipe (Javier Bardem). Because learning to love yourself is great, but it’s just as good to find the perfect man. As Liz literally sails off into the sunset at the end, you might just find yourself feeling a little empty (no matter how much pasta you’ve caved in and eaten after the sequence in Rome).
The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly About The Eat Pray Love Movie
This film is shameless (and unapologetic) wish fulfillment, romance mixed with travel, disguised as the story of an upper-middle-class American woman on a spiritual quest. The writer Elizabeth Gilbert says, “I wanted to explore the art of pleasure in Italy, the art of devotion in India, and the art of balancing the two in Indonesia.”
While there is obviously nothing wrong with a woman being unhappy in what seems to be a perfect life, or in wanting to ‘find herself,’ the film completely refuses to address the privilege involved in Liz Gilbert’s story. How many of us would love to throw everything away and travel the globe but can’t because of responsibilities and finances? I’m willing to bet it’s quite a lot.
It doesn’t help that the film perpetuates the stereotype of the “Spiritual East” where westerners come to find enlightenment, nor that the journey of finding oneself ends with finding a man.
Despite all these deliberate clichés, the film has quite a lot going for it. Roberts plays the role of Elizabeth Gilbert beautifully, turning on that photogenic, 1000-watt smile of hers just enough times to convince us to root for her, even after you’ve found yourself wanting to hit the screen at her whining about finding herself but not actually trying. Perhaps her most relatable moment is when she tries and fails to avoid distractions while meditating.
It is also truly beautiful to look at. With the scenic locales of green rice fields and majestic ruins, it’s easy to forget all its flaws and just enjoy the vibrant destinations. The rich cinematography creates a sort of idyllic sheen over both the sets and the characters. However, this, combined with the unhurried pace of the film creates a somewhat unrealistic view of travel. It also loses something by glossing over the struggles that most solo women travelers actually face.
Whatever else the film does for you it’s sure to make you want to jump on a plane to Italy, India, or Bali. (Or maybe just make you want to order an extra-large pizza).
Both the book and movie give out the same message: wanting to set off on a self-discovery journey all by yourself. Find out what makes you happy and do it without thinking twice.
Julia Roberts who played the character Liz Gilbert reportedly stayed in the Pataudi Palace with her three children during the shoot. The entire portion in India was filmed at Hari Mandir Ashram in Pataudi about 40 kilometers from Gurgaon.
“Learn your way around loneliness” and “To travel is worth any cost or sacrifice”, both written by Elizabeth Gilbert are quotes that help tell the story from the movie.
Going on a trip to heal oneself from a severe emotional or spiritual crisis is popularly known as an Eat Pray Love moment.
Watch the movie Eat pray love on Netflix, Hotstar, Voot or Jio Cinema.