PG-13 for brief strong language, some sexual references and male rear nudity.
August 13, 2010
Julia Roberts, James Franco, Richard Jenkins, Viola Davis, Billy Crudup, Javier Bardem
Sony Pictures Entertainment
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Eat Pray Love
By Hannah Goodwyn
- Based on Elizabeth Gilbert’s bestselling memoir, Julia Roberts' new movie Eat Pray Love chronicles a “rediscovering self” journey around the world. As expected, the film follows Gilbert's exploration of exotic cultures and Eastern religions. Foul language and nudity push what could be a PG-rated movie to PG-13 status.
The Movie in a Minute
Liz (Julia Roberts) is living the dream life with husband Stephen (Billy Crudup), a house in New York, and a successful career. Desperate to find peace and fulfillment, Liz realizes she's not leaving her dream. After divorcing Stephen, Liz falls into a relationship with a young actor named David (James Franco), whom she eventually leaves to embark on a worldwide excursion. In her travels, she gets nourished in Italy, prays in India, and attempts to find balance – and possibly a true love (Javier Bardem as Felipe) – in Bali.
Eat Pray Love: The Good vs. The Bad
A story about finding meaning in your life, Eat Pray Love attempts to inspire audiences to focus on what truly matters – yourself. The perceived worldview behind this expedition of self-discovery is that before you can love someone else you must first love yourself. Though this thought is not invalid, it lends itself toward a selfish way of living, one filled with self-gratification and self-based beliefs.
Liz’s “new” life stems from a prophecy she received from a Balinese medicine man as he read her palm. Feeling like she had no pulse in her New York life, she drops everything – marriage included – and moves on. Reaching for answers in the midst of a tough divorce, Liz picks up self-help books and begins a relationship with David, one built on infatuation more than love. Convinced she can find peace on her travels, she makes one last ditch effort to find God and some peace on this around-the-world adventure. On Liz’s tour of Italy, India, and Bali, she immerses herself in pleasure and meditation with the hope that they will satisfy her emptiness.
Julia Roberts, as Liz, does pray to God in the beginning of the film. With no context to tell us otherwise, it’s assumed that she is praying to the God we know. However, during her relationship with young David, she’s introduced to the teachings of a guru. As Liz's journey progresses, it becomes clear that she believes that all faiths point to one deity, that all paths lead to the same spiritual conclusion. On her second trip to Bali, the medicine man teaches her the importance of a balanced life, “not too much god, not too much self.”
Even with a reverence toward faith and spirituality, Eat Pray Love doesn't embrace Christianity. Though the intention to alienate our faith may not have been in the minds of the author or filmmakers, it is still evident in the movie. It's interesting that even as Eastern religions are being esteemed, in the next moment Christ is not revered (i.e., the vain use of Jesus’ name).
Since spirituality is on the table in Eat Pray Love, it’s important to note that morality doesn’t seem to be affected by it. Sex outside of marriage is a recurring theme in the film, including a scene where a male’s bare rear is exposed as he proposes that Liz has sex with him. But hey, “everyone has a love affair in Bali.”
That all said, here is this critic's take on the entertainment value. The casting director should get a raise. Lead actress Julia Roberts is joined with a fantastic supporting cast in the likes of Billy Crudup (Public Enemies), Richard Jenkins (Dear John, The Visitor ), James Franco (Spider-Man), Viola Davis (Doubt), and Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men). The direction of the film is well choreographed due to the talent of director Ryan Murphy, one of the creators of TV’s hit show Glee. Seeing the sites of Italy, India, and Bali through his lens, will motivate you to travel and experience these places for yourself. The messages on helping others in need and Liz’s relearning of the importance of family are both good ones to hear.
One qualm is with the film’s length. Coming in at almost 2 and a half hours, Eat Pray Love is too long. At the moment when you’re witnessing Liz’s travels in Italy and you realize that you’ve got two more countries to go, you’ll feel it.
In the End
Keeping in mind that this film is a secular story about a woman’s search for meaning, Eat Love Pray is a pretty good film, especially considering its skilled cast and director. However, its promotion of Eastern religions, the idea of picking up and leaving your life behind, and the foul language and nudity, make it unlikable from a Christian’s perspective. Was it entertaining and well made? Sure. Was it morally conscience or religiously fair? No.
Hannah Goodwyn is the Family and Entertainment producer for CBN.com. For more articles and information, visit Hannah's bio page.
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