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Eat Pray Love(2010)
Liz Gilbert had everything a modern woman is supposed to dream of having - house, husband, successful career - yet she found herself lost, confused, and searching for what she really wanted in life. Newly divorced and at a crossroads, Gilbert steps out of her comfort zone, embarking on a journey around the world in a quest for self-discovery. In her travels, she discovers the true pleasure of nourishment by eating in Italy; the power of prayer in India, and, finally and unexpectedly, the inner peace and balance of true love in Bali.
For more about Eat Pray Love and the Eat Pray Love Blu-ray release, see Eat Pray Love Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on November 21, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Julia Roberts, Javier Bardem, Richard Jenkins, I. Gusti Ayu Puspawati, Hadi Subiyanto, Billy Crudup
Director: Ryan Murphy
» See full cast & crew
Eat Pray Love Blu-ray Review
Watch Snooze Sleep.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, November 21, 2010
Ruin is the road to transformation.
Eat Pray Love is pretty much a mess in every conceivable way, right down to its confused structure/title arrangement whereby the film is built around what can only be described as an untraditional four-act structure with the picture named after the one-word summaries of its final three acts. Poor act one, not getting any props. The title Eat Pray Love (no, that's not a typo, the title is indeed sans commas) gives off a cheerful "yea life is good!" vibe, as opposed to something like Hate Eat Pray Love or Discombobulate Eat Pray Love or, yeah, whatever, this movie's not worth the effort. Basically, rather than plop down another verb into the title to set a bad tone for the movie before it's even started, the filmmakers (and writer Elizabeth Gilbert, apparently, who at least had the gramatical insight to use commas in the title of her novel of the almost same name) conveniently left out any reference to the first quarter of the story. Without speaking specifically of the book (which was apparently pretty good and spent beaucoup months atop the good old New York Times Bestseller list), the film version might have been more honest in its titling had it been called something like Hate (you go girl!) Eat (but watch out for those pesky muffin tops!) Pray (that the movie doesn't really have another hour-and-a-half. Oh, it does? Bring the Cannoli and, oh, why not, the gun too!) Love (those end credits! Yay!).
Writer Liz Gilbert (Julia Roberts, Closer) is on assignment in Bali where she meets with an aged and experienced medicine man who predicts she will one day return to him and better understand why fate has in store for her one short marriage and one long and fruitful marriage. That prediction kicks her brain into overdrive, ultimately leading her to believe that current hubby Stephen (Billy Crudup, Big Fish) probably isn't the man destined to lead her through the long and fruitful marriage she so wants. She dissolves the marriage and immediately begins a not-to-be relationship with a younger stage actor named David (James Franco, Pineapple Express) that pushes her over the edge and leads her to undertake a daunting but, she hopes, ultimately fruitful journey of self-discovery around the world. Taking with her little more than her own tattered soul and the clothes on her back, she sets out to find herself amidst the delectable foods if Italy, followed by trips to India and, completing the circle, Bali, where she looks for answers to improve her spiritual and emotional well-being and, just maybe, find the man she needs to lead her through that prophesied long stretch of marital bliss.
The real problems with Eat Pray Love lie well beyond the title or the basics of the plot. On its surface, Eat Pray Love would seem like a decent enough story and one ripe for a movie. A woman on a journey of self-discovery who travels to exotic locations, meets interesting people, falls in love, and lives happily ever after seems like a formula for (admittedly genre-cliché) success, but Writer/Director Ryan Murphy ("Glee") forgot the most important element that must be present in all of these sorts of films to succeed: heart. Eat Pray Love is as basic as its title suggests; it's a routine picture that's on cruise control from start to finish that seems only concerned with plopping Julia Roberts in front of as many exotic locales as is possible to cram into a two and one-half hour film. Sure, there's the requisite inner-journey accompanying the outer one, but that more critical element -- the soulful journey -- seems more like an afterthought, even in those scenes where the character attempts to philosophize life through the consumption of food, attempts meditation, or meets with her spiritual guru. The film never does find or maintain a balance that lends any sort of perceptible weight to Liz Gilbert's inner struggles, instead emphasizing her physical sojourns to several admittedly exotic and visually attractive locales. The characters, then, are flat, their actions abrupt, and interactions forced and phony. For a film that runs well over two hours, Eat Pray Love never finds any depth, resulting in a dragged-out feel that never captures the imagination or builds the characters to a point that they're worth rooting for. Give props to the story for attempting to incorporate important life themes and lessons, but knock the film for failing to capitalize on them.
Unfortunately, star Julia Roberts does nothing to bring some much-needed energy to the part. She seems lackadaisical throughout, displaying minimal effort and zero personality to her character. Never does she become Liz Gilbert; instead, Eat Pray Love plays more like a star vehicle than a genuine effort to be anything more than a movie banking on nothing but the name of the book on which it is based and the actress on the marquee and poster image to sell tickets, and such a narrow-minded picture is exactly what audiences get. The film might have benefited from someone with a little more spunk, even if the part calls for a middle-aged woman suffering through a midlife crisis. Roberts isn't quite in Harrison Ford washed-up territory, but long gone, it would seem after watching Eat Pray Love, is the beautifully charming young lady who dazzled in Pretty Woman or earned an Oscar in Erin Brockovich. Of course, not all of the blame can be laid directly at Roberts' feet; the script hurtles audiences into the middle of her character's life story and does next to nothing to make viewers care about her failing marriage, fling with the attractive young actor, or decision to frolic around the world in search of herself (and wouldn't be nice if the average guy or gal could afford to drop everything and rediscover their inner qi once or twice). The picture always just seems like an excuse for something or another (resumé padding, guaranteed ticket sales) rather than a meaningful and potentially life-changing story that should have been the end result. Instead, Eat Pray Love is a choppy picture built on cinematic conveniences, contrivances, and fantasy, ultimately doing nothing to better the audiences who can only afford a few measly dollars for a movie ticket rather than the untold thousands it would cost to drop everything and travel the world on what amounts to little more than a whim.
Eat Pray Love Blu-ray, Video Quality
Eat Pray Love aims for an almost dreamlike visual scheme that's evidenced by some soft-focus shots and blooming whites. Contrast also appears boosted quite a bit, giving a very warm feel to the proceedings, resulting in an orange/red tint to much of the image that's also evident in flesh tones. It might not be the most visually attractive setup, but it appears to reflect Director Ryan Murphy's intended visual scheme quite well. Sony's 1080p transfer features some excellent detailing, seen on everything from the texturing of Italy's gorgeous stone and brick exteriors to the slightest ridges on a sheet of paper that Liz receives from the Medicine Man in Bali early in the film. Nevertheless, the intentional soft focus tends to smear some finer details, but the transfer does enjoy a rather filmic appearance aided by a slight layer of natural film grain. Black levels never falter from an inky, steady appearance, and only light banding and aliasing add any unintended distractions to the image. Eat Pray Love's 1080p transfer is quite proficient, but some viewers might not like the picture's intended appearance.
Eat Pray Love Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Eat Pray Love features the old standby DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless codec, and Sony's audio presentation does everything it can with what is a rather straightforward soundtrack. Eat Pray Love does feature some nicely-realized ambience in the form of gentle environmental nuances here and there, whether the buzzing of insects during the opening Bali scene, distant thunder and light rain in another, or the hustle and bustle of busier city locales throughout the film. The track finds its stride with some potent and rich, room-filling music in chapter eight, and it even incorporates some subtle but noticeable bass in a few places. As expected, dialogue is perfectly centered in the front and never unnaturally strays to any other part of the soundstage. Much like the video presentation, this lossless soundtrack is technically proficient, but it's not going to do anything to excite most listeners.
Eat Pray Love Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Eat Pray Love features a few extras. Ryan Murphy's Journey with 'Eat Pray Love' (1080p, 4:18) features the film's director speaking on the film's story, the inspiration of the novel on his life, his work with Writer Elizabeth Gilbert and Actress Julia Roberts, how the film fits his directorial preferences, and the reaction of Elizabeth Gilbert to the final film. The Beginning of the Journey (1080p, 15:25) begins with Writer Elizabeth Gilbert discussing her experiences in writing the novel and moving on to examine the process of translating it to the screen and shooting parts of the film in Rome. Included are several interview clips with Julia Roberts, James Franco, Screenwriter Jennifer Salt, and several other cast and crew. Praying in India (1080p, 14:41) follows the formula of the previous piece, featuring Gilbert discussing a portion of her journey and moving on to look at the filmmaking process in India. Amongst the interviewees here is Actor Richard Jenkins and others who play parts in this segment of the film. Next is Finding Balance (1080p, 11:48), the final in this trio of extras, this one examining the film's final act in Bali, highlighted by interview clips with Actor Javier Bardem. Also included is BD-Live functionality; MovieIQ Connectivity; the "Better Days" music video (1080p, 4:12); and 1080p trailers for Salt, The Other Guys, Mother and Child, Easy A, Welcome to the Rileys, Tamara Drewe, and Grown Ups.
Eat Pray Love Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Reflections on a Midlife Crisis, er, Eat Pray Love might be a good book, but it's a miserably overlong and under-realized movie that could have been a touching Comedy/Drama that examines what it is that really matters in life. Instead, it's a shallow travelogue with flat characters inserted into beautiful backdrops that runs a good hour more than it should and only leaves audiences wondering "where's the beef?" Eat Pray Love is the poster child for unrealized potential and the futility of banking an entire movie on a book title and a name star who's well past her prime. There are far better "girl finds love in exotic locale movies" out there that manage better stories, tighter direction, smoother editing, and far more heart and emotion; the recent Letters to Juliet is one such movie, and it comes recommended over Eat Pray Love. For those who did enjoy Eat Pray Love in theaters, loved the book, or simply want to check it out, anyway, Sony's Blu-ray release is serviceably good. The 1080p transfer is underwhelming, but it does seem reflective of the film's intended visual style. The soundtrack is fine and the supplements genre-average. Best to give this one a rent before making a blind buy.
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