Sunday, August 29, 2010

Eat Pray Javier

I tagged along with a couple of girl friends for lunch (the principal purpose) and secondarily to see Eat Pray Love. Even though we all knew it would be chick flickorama and it has received generally bad reviews, I wanted to see the Bali scenes -  plus I'd heard there was some good food photography.

Richard chastised me for being snooty about the way Bali "used to be" and for my predictions that the film would ruin Bali. He claims that since the second tourist on earth went anywhere, the first tourist has always claimed to have seen the real ___________, fill in the blank. He's right. Every spot in the world morphs to some degree every day and whatever you see on your visit is your personal particular version of the place, not more and not less. Lesson learned - let it alone.

The film as expected was unbelievably sappy and Julia Roberts seemed awfully miscast - way too old for a character so immature and so naive - after all, the point of the whole story was the author "finding herself" which is hard to buy for someone who clearly looks over 40 - she looks good, but she's no longer a cute young thing. The character as written (in real life) is so self-absorbed that you want to gag. She has looks, money, success (at writing) - all the opportunity and resources in the world and can't find happiness. Boohoo. 

She is portrayed as the typical over-indulged twit who is never thankful for the many, many wonderful aspects of her life; beautiful and talented she has the world at her finger tips. What's wrong with this picture? Because she doesn't want children, we are supposed to feel sorry for her? The shitty husband is dump-able - come get over it!  

Some of the scenes, without her, were pretty good, one in particular featuring Richard Jenkins who delivered a fine piece of acting. The cinematography which I expected to be good was crashingly disappointing - lots of corny star bursts and icky light reflections. Lighting and focus was appropriate for the food scenes. There weren't that many: the markets in Rome ...a Thanksgiving turkey which looked splendid (even though I know it was never roasted, only painted with kitchen bouquet), pasta dishes shot from straight overhead and best of all, a food market in Bali, with lingering shots on the rambutan and the durian.  

The movie was interminable and the editor should have been shot. Even I (who know nothing about editing) could have cut out 30 minutes and made a film with a better pace.  In the end, the Bali part was only about 15 minutes long and only a few minutes really of Bali itself. One sweeping aerial shot of the rice terraces was gorgeous, a couple of exterior shots showing the jungle views of houses were good but there were only snippets here and there of offering towers and the decorative festival banners that hang over the streets. Oddly, the principal scenes between Julia and Javier could have been shot anywhere which puzzles me. Too much beach emphasis. Bali is really not about beaches but about the culture - which was minimally exposed. If I knew nothing about Bali, I'd look at this and think hmm - another beach resort. Yawn - except for Javier Badeem, who does stir the imagination.

There was one excellent bit of film. Julia, attending an Indian friend's wedding and watching the loud, colorful celebratory wedding dance, recalls the "first dance" at her own wedding. The DJ announces the event and the couple walks onto the floor - her arms fold around the new husband's neck, he tells her she looks beautiful and the DJ starts playing some loud disco thing. She looks at her husband aghast and says, "but this isn't our song". He replies that he knows, turns to go over to the DJ presumably to make the correction and then he turns back to face Julia, assuming a horrible Saturday Night Fever dance pose. He proceeds to dance around her and all the guests, disco-ing all the way, clearly a shock for Julia. She expresses disbelief, shock, dismay, horror, disgust, embarrassment - all in about 20 seconds. As the emotions flicker across her face, you can hear her thinking to herself, "Is this what my marriage is going to be - who is this narcissistic a-hole?". Yet her words mouthed to him are "I love you". And as it turns out, yes - that's what her marriage turns out to be - a sham.  The scene summed up story of the marriage efficiently.

An aside: I attended a wedding somewhat like this where both husband and wife were narcissistic bores. They sang to each other, then sang to us, danced for us and finally, the food was served and we could get outta there. The marriage started with a fight for the spotlight and that battle continued throughout the five years of their marriage. The bride's daughter (18 years old) sidled up to me during the dueling duets and whispered, "Can you believe this?" 

My two friends fell asleep mid-way through the film and had a nice half hour snooze during the ashram scenes. Gives you an idea of the pace. 


  1. Sounds awful. Just as I expected. I sure loved your review, though!

  2. We got our $5.50's worth cause the theatre was air-conditioned.

  3. I attempted to read the book (I should say listen since I had it on MP3 from the library), and I felt like I had added another person to whine at me all day. Thanks for the review on the movie! I now know I will be skipping it for sure.

  4. Hello!!! What a nice surprise to hear from you. Yes, you wouldn't feel like you were getting a break from whining:). Wait for the video if you just want to see the scenery and/or admire Mr. Bardeem.

  5. Anonymous11:47 AM

    great movie review. i'm for sure going to miss this one. i think you've missed your calling, tho. you should start a movie blog. i've got a great idea for a film blog that we should discuss. it would be so fun.