Eat Pray Love Envy

August 21, 2010

By Karen

Critics are mercilessly trashing Eat Pray Love exactly as they did Sex and the City 2 — calling it shallow and self-absorbed. WHAT is their problem with movies about women?

Unlike many reviewers, I read the book before seeing the movie and I liked both a lot. Who wouldn’t want to spend a year disconnected from their daily ruts and problems, exploring strange and beautiful places and meeting interesting people?

In the book, I couldn’t relate to author Elizabeth Gilbert’s marital problems, but she hooked me when she decided to find her true self through travel. I spent about 15 years doing the same thing, but in a very different way. (My memoir, Counting Nights, is in the works. Stay tuned…).

As Liz, Julia Roberts was perfect. Much of the plot is cerebral, and Julia did a wonderful job with those many quiet moments. Her eyes speak volumes.

Liz’s first stop was Italy. After No Reservations, it was my second trip to Rome this week. But Liz’s Rome was in full color and her adventures in eating consisted of spaghetti, pizza (in Naples), and gelato. I loved watching her do what I’ve always wanted to do, but in Paris.

Next, India. If not for Richard the tortured Texan at the ashram, I would have slept through this part, but that’s me and India (explained in my book). And I don’t believe endless chanting brings you any closer to God than handling snakes.

But then Liz goes to beautiful, quirky Bali and meets her future husband, a sexy, gorgeous Brazilian named Felipe.

My memory of the book is vague enough that I wasn’t bothered, or even noticed, if the movie mangled some parts, but Felipe (played by Javier Bardem) was nothing like I remember him.

In the book, Liz and Felipe were like the May-December romance of Nellie Forbush and Emile de Becque in South Pacific. In the movie, they’re more physically matched, but they still have Bali Ha’i.

I left the theater feeling strangely hopeful that my Felipe is still out there somewhere, waiting for me to find him. And I had spaghetti for dinner.

PS: The New York Times review got it right.

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