Friday, March 19, 2010

Yes, No, Maybe So: Eat Pray Love

We try to keep our new movie expectations safely balanced by weighing the possible highs and lows suggested by new trailers. Here's the first peak of the summer drama Eat Pray Love with Julia Roberts.



Eat Pray Love is based on the bestselling memoirs of Elizabeth Gilbert who travelled to Rome, Mumbai and Bali on a journey of self-discovery after her divorce.

yes
Spiritual, romantic or emotional journeys (is this one all three?) can be thrilling to watch if the right actress is playing the right role (provided, of course, that the filmmakers aren't after one of those lame, shallow "you can have it all!" empowerment tales). Julia Roberts might be a perfect fit for this since she's got the outward appearance of someone who has it all but an inner soulfulness that can tilt towards the despairing, troubled or needy. The buttery light and the presence of Javier Bardem makes me think of Vicky Cristina Barcelona and the 'woman opens up in a foreign country' makes me think of EM Forster adaptations and the though of India touching a long-locked white woman makes me think of "Thank U" by Alanis Morrissette. These are all good things to be reminded of.

no
On the other hand, this could be really whiny and insufferable, another entry in the dread genre Pretty Rich White People With Problems.
Since I was fifteen, I've either been with a guy or breaking up with a guy. I have not given myself two weeks of a breather just to deal with myself
So let me get this straight. As soon as Julia is done with dreamboat Billy Crudup, handsome young James Franco pines for her while Spanish lover Javier Bardem waits just around the corner. And she has enough money to quit work for a year on this vacation to find herself? Oh boo hoo! How does she wake up in the morning!?!

We should all have those problems.

This particular subgenre of road movie also has the inherent danger of cultural insensitivity. Quite often the "exotic" people and lands of these stories exist only to aid and fulfill the lives of the Pretty Rich White People and aren't ever given dimension and a point of view of their own (The Darjeeling Limited provides a recent beautifully illustrative example of this dilemma.)

maybe so
But on the other hand, don't we need these stories? Catharsis is one of the great benefits of art and travel is also a reliable eye-opener. And no matter what country you're from when you do travel to another, you are in fact viewing that "exotic" land from your own limited perspective be it Mumbai, Paris, New York, or Kansas City. And even wealthy beautiful people need to find themselves and really live.

And Julia touches an elephant!

Redemptive journey movies can be inspirational if they're not too reductive and if they don't play things too easy. So if the director (Ryan Murphy of Running With Scissors) is careful and the cast (including fine lesser-known actors like Richard Jenkins, Viola Davis and Mary Testa) is on their game, Eat Pray Love could be really good. If it is, lines like
If you could clear out all that space in your mind you'd have a doorway. And you know what the universe would do? Rush in!
won't sound like new age tripe but healing words of wisdom instead.

Are you a Yes, No or Maybe So for this one?
*

30 comments:

James T said...

I am a NO. I think this kind of movies are getting worse every year. There does seem to be some hope in this film but that only means I might be able to enjoy half a scene here and half a scene there.

Hayden said...

I know what you mean about needing the "right" kind of actress for these roles. That's what made Diane Lane such a perfect fit for Under the Tuscan Sun (which I adored).

Needless to say, I love movies like this and can't wait.

Stephular said...

I read the book when I moved to Europe on a whim. I had just broken up with someone and I needed out. I moved to the Alps and read the memoirs and I felt inspired, for a short while. I doubt the film will be able to provoke as much emotional response as the book did, however I'm still excited to see how they bring it to life. I think Julia Roberts is absolutely perfect for this role. I am a MAYBE.

john said...

Hmmmm, i don't think its a yes or a no, or even a maybe so, more of a meh. Is this Julia's Up in the Air?? Pretty please Nathaniel could you do a 'yes, no, maybe so' for the new(ish) trailer for Robin Hood, eager to know you thoughts on that one.

Jorge Rodrigues said...

I am a NO. I don't know why but I feel a lot of this year's movies won't live up to their expectations.

I'm really feeling negative about INCEPTION by the way... I heard some amazing footage was shown at ShoWest, which only build up more irrealistic expectations around the film. I really hope it is great, but I can't help but wonder if the expectations aren't a little bit too high...

Yancey said...

Yes

I'm game for this, but then it's Julia, so I'm there anyway. I'm curious to see what her box office clout is like now, and if she can really sell this to the masses or not. Let's see if she can pull a summer Meryl with this one (box office, not Oscars, though it would be sweet to see her back there with something -- it's been too long since "Erin Brockovich"!).

Jorge Rodrigues said...

The film I'm most eagerly antecipating, besides Inception, Black Swan and True Grit, is Sophia Coppola's "Somewhere". Will it mark her return to the Kodak theatre? Early word on it says yes.

The rest is still very foggy (The American, The Conspirator, London Boulevard, Brighton Rock, The Tree of Life, Another Year, Fair Game, The King's Speech, Rabbit Hole, The Fighter, The Way Back. The Town, The Company Men, The Rum Diary, The Debt, Miral, Hereafter, 127 Hours... So many things that can go wrong).

Lena said...

I am really bothered by the lack of commas in the title.

Kimberly said...

I'm all three also.
Julia, a film shot on location (Italy is my happy place) & Viola Davis = yes!
The whine = No! I can already hear from here. To be honest the book began with this tone, Elizabeth Gilbert I find annoying... but once you get over that hump it's good. So I expect the same from the movie, luckily I don't find Julia as distasteful as I do the character she's playing - the author Gilbert.
My maybe is one of those things where, just looking at the trailer, I know I'll either LOVE it or HATE it - most likely won't be an in between. That will greatly depend on how I'm actually feeling the day I see the movie... and who I go with.

Evan said...

I'll admit it: I'm excited. But then again, I love traveling, travel books, and travel movies, so much so that "Into the Wild" made me want to go find myself like Chris McCandless (a *slight* misreading of the message of that film... ha). It's no wonder "Eat Pray Love" has captured my attention.

Sam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sam said...

Was Diane Lane not available for the sequel?

mrripley said...

If Julia doesn't open this her box office days are truly over,they have been dormant for a few years now,this is a test of her lasting movie star credentials!

Karl said...

I am a NO unless there is Oscar talk for Julia, and then I am a reluctant YES.

Ryan T. said...

I'm more excited than I thought I would ever be for this movie. So I'm in the yes column. For now.

Last Julia flick I saw was Duplicity and loved it. So, here's to hoping.

Lorenzo said...

I am a NO. I'm italian and it just makes me mad the way this kind of films portray foreign countries... I mean, I'm not even that proud of my country (who can be proud of our prime minister?!!), but in these movies Italy tends to become nothing more than a collection of irritating cardboard backdrops... That said, I LOVE Julia (and James Franco, btw) and I really hope to be disproved.

Deborah said...

I'm a maybe. Like perhaps wait for DVD. Or at least watch what people like you think first.

Jude said...

I am a YES, but I fear for all of the wrong reasons (Julia, James, Javier! I'm easily persuaded).


...all those names start with "J!" Cool.

pomme said...

i say Maybe because of casting!

Paul Outlaw said...

No to JR.
No to the subject matter.
No to the director (I like his trash, his art not so much).
Yes to the supporting cast.
Yes to the cinematographer.
Yes to the composer.

Glenn said...

I'm going with yes because it will be released here in the winter and I think there'll be nothing better in the winter that cosying up with this movie and leaving the cinema grinning from ear to ear. Plus, Julia Roberts...

par3182 said...

NO. the trailer just made me want to slap julia roberts...HARD.

Deivith Coast said...

I´m in the YES column. And because there isn´t an I NEED TO SEE THIS MOVIE NOW! I´m reading the book right now and I´m having a marvelous time, I think it´s sooo adorable...And I can´t help it, Elizabeth Gilbert as a character has many ingredients for me to hate her but I just love her, don´t know why, I need to hug her!! I ´m dying to see this movie, and I think Ryan Murphy is a great choice, and it would be great if he wraps all the movie with his usual humor, so camp so naïve but yet so sarcastic and dark... And Julia is the PERFECT choice. And before I read your text, Nathaniel, watching the trailer I have thought the same as you: "Julia touches an elephant!!!". One of my biggest of the year, and I would have never expected it. Of course it´s nothing compared to Black Swan (I need a trailer RIGHT NOW), Rabbit Hole (I need a release date RIGHT NOW!)or The Social Network ( I always need David Fincher, and I alway need to see Justin Timberlake...), but "Eat Pray Love" is going to be great!! I would love that the film had Oscar attention.

caracolillos said...

Yes of course. The trailer is perfect and this is the real Julia´s comeback (I loved Duplicity but it was too smart for big audiences). I have the feeling that EPL will be good and Julia´s work may be great. Cross my fingers for Oscar attention.

Lucky said...

I'm a No. Not that I don't like Julia Roberts, but this seems like something very preachy that we've seen before. And It's not like I hate to see white rich people whining (I love American Beauty), but this seems shallow. And Viola Davis playing the black best friend? C'mon...

Dorian said...

Yes, Yes, Yes! Julia, James, & Javier! I'm so there. Don't eff this up for me Ryan Murphy like you're so prone to do with everything you touch! This could be my beloved Julia's comeback role! This has to at least be a best cinematography contender next year.

serengetti said...

YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Julia, Javier, James, Viola, Murphy,a beautiful book... yes, yes, yes...

Claude Medwenitsch said...

1989
1990
2000
2010???

NATHANIEL R said...

Claude... maybe. You never know.

"Shop" Anthropy! said...

Well said on all angles!

I'll probably end up seeing the movie cause it seems breezy and light- hearted and certainly an escape as I dream that I have her 'problems' for a moment.

However I did find this site which allows you to shop a eat, pray, love theme while raising funds for HIV awareness with MTV's Staying Alive Foundation:

http://shop.staying-alive.org/eat-pray-love-shop

Check it out :)