Eat Pray Love:: A movie review of sorts

I was a huge fan of the book, Eat Pray Love,  so I was prepared to be disappointed. I was surprised though. I wasn’t surprised because I wasn’t disappointed, I was surprised by the way in which I was disappointed. In the book, and in the author Elizabeth Gilbert’s life, the collapse of her marriage was instigated by her realization that she didn’t want to be a mother, like she had previously thought. I really found her revelation to be liberating and soul bearing. As a woman who has also decided that kids are not what I want, I know it can be a rough road for any woman that announces such a feeling. The fact that they left it out of the movie altogether is insulting to a. women like me who are not the cold hearted bitches that some folks imagine us to be, b. the audience who wasn’t trusted to still like a character who makes such an unpopular choice and c. Elizabeth herself, who, after all, had her life up there on the screen for everyone to judge.

I think I am the most appalled that the folks who wrote the adaptation thought that the story still held up without this crucial detail.  So they chose to have us believe that Liz left her marriage because she just wasn’t in the mood anymore?  They really don’t think that showing her suddenly realize that she isn’t who she thought she was and thus has to leave her marriage because who she actually is makes it the wrong place for her now was a stronger choice?  Is the world that afraid of the childless by choice women of the world?  Oprah doesn’t scare them, so why should Elizabeth Gilbert?  I took this omission personally and not just because I am a woman without children.

I took it personally because I am a movie lover and this glaring omission made the movie lack the juice that the book had.  We childless aunties of the world, as Gilbert so lovingly calls our sisterhood in her follow up bookCommitted, did not come to this choice lightly.  There is much internal conflict about whether or not this is indeed the difficult path that we want to take.  While she traveled around the world, this struggle came up a time or two as she grappled with her choice and would have worked nicely as part of her unrest in the movie on her quest for peace.  The book also had some heartbreaking bits about her struggle with depression that wouldn’t have added much time to the movie, if that was why it was left out.

I found the joy and complexity of Gilbert’s book completely missing from the screen.  As much as I love Julia Roberts, she was the wrong choice.  She is too together as a person to portray the raw and struggling Liz that we met in the book.  I wanted someone with unrest in her eyes, until in India she finds it.  It’s hard to show a person on a quest for inner peace if you show someone who seem so much like they are faking being off kilter.  The whole time I read the book I kept seeing Rosemary DeWitt from Rachel Getting Married and The United Sates of Tara as my Liz, despite the fact that Rosemary is a brunette and Elizabeth Gilbert is a blond.

Mostly I want to know how my friend Liz Gilbert felt about the movie.  Because although she doesn’t know me, and I don’t really know her, she feels like a friend when you read her books that are about her experiences.  She speaks to you like she has known you all of your life and that intimacy was also missing from Eat, Pray, Love.  When the credits rolled I felt my heart saying, “Sorry Liz, your story was so much better than that.  You deserve more.”

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