Verdict: What it lacks in inspiration and emotional depth, it makes up for in lovely scenery and chick flick escapism
It's a favourite with divorcees and females contemplating changing their Facebook status to single, but much loved Elizabeth Gilbert's memoir Eat, Pray, Love will likely win few new fans with this film adaptation.
On the big screen the scenery is spectacular, it's a wonderful promotion for the different chapters in this film - Italy (the eating part), India (praying part) and Bali (yes, love part). But while it does have a generally liberating feel, this travelogue comes up short when it comes to life-changing affirmations, or epiphanies.
Julia Roberts does a good job - as does her supporting cast of Javier Bardem and Richard Jenkins - she is surprisingly convincing as Liz Gilbert, who in her early 30s divorces her husband (Billy Crudup) and decides to find herself by spending a year travelling around the world. Liz is accessible and shows just enough genuine vulnerability, but most importantly she is likeable, an important factor considering how self-involved she is.
Eat, Pray, Love is supposedly the story of a woman trying to escape the confinements of her urban existence and romantic relationships, but Liz's life doesn't really come off as being bad enough to set up the premise. She's able to find men at the drop of a hat, has a successful career as a writer, and can afford to just take off for a year on a trip of self-discovery - all more likely to conjure up envy than empathy.
There just isn't enough valuable material in this film to justify the length, it's simply far too long for what is in essence a pre-midlife crisis OE. The yawns kick in before you've even got to Bali, but at least you can say that director Ryan Murphy (Glee) makes you feel you've been travelling for a year as well.
Once it's all over, it's the film's length that weighs on your mind and numb backside, rather than the enjoyable and fun moments, of which there are plenty. While some might feel Julia the star overshadows her character, others may feel it's her charm and star power that drives this leisurely paced film along. I say thank goodness for Julia.
Cast: Julia Roberts, James Franco, Javier Bardem
Director: Ryan Murphy
Running time: 140 mins
Rating: M, offensive language