Thank goodness for literal titles. Otherwise I might be at a loss to ascertain just what exactly Eat Pray Love is about. Had I been without those three guiding verbs I might have suspected it to be about a forlorn earth-bound angel played by Julia Roberts who travels the world eliciting pearls of wisdom from charming impoverished locals in an effort to earn back her wings. It’s certainly the impression conveyed by the film’s director Ryan Murphy who takes great care to ensure that his ethereal star is never without her amber halo as she floats about in a soft-focus glow. Here’s Julia bathed in golden light and slurping up a pile of spaghetti in Italy. Here’s Julia bathed in golden light and meditating at an ashram in India. Here’s Julia bathed in golden light and charming a toothless medicine man in Bali.
In actuality Roberts plays not a fallen seraph but the very human Elizabeth Gilbert upon whose bestselling memoir the film is based. A successful writer Liz is plagued by nagging doubts about her life’s direction which culminate in a terrifying middle-of-the-night realization that she is in fact desperately unhappy and in need of drastic change. Being a proactive gal she takes immediate action dumping her aimless doofus of a husband (Billy Crudup) and taking up with vapid young actor (James Franco). But his chiseled features and new-age aphorisms fail to relieve her existential languor and so she opts for more drastic measures pulling up stakes entirely and embarking on a year-long sojourn abroad in which she eats prays and loves in that precise order in a quest for self-discovery.
It’s a common cliche to say that a certain city or country is a character in a film shot on location but in the case of Eat Pray Love the settings of Italy India and Bali are not only characters they’re the most interesting characters of the entire ensemble. Which says less about the talents of the film’s cinematographer Robert Richardson than it does about the failings of its director and co-writer Murphy. The lone face that manages to stand out among the lackluster crowd is the always sublime Richard Jenkins who plays an unctuous Texan encountered by Roberts’ meandering malcontent during the "pray" portion of her journey. A sort of Hindu Dr. Phil he plies Liz with plain-spoken spiritual advice that helps to finally wrest her from her malaise.
And what exactly is Liz so sad about? Certainly her old life doesn’t appear all that worth mourning a sentiment inadvertently reinforced by flashbacks to difficult moments in her life which frankly appear more awkward than painful. As far as I could tell her principal emotional burdens are: 1) guilt over her entirely reasonable decision to divorce her doofus husband and 2) regret over her other entirely reasonable decision to ditch the vapid actor who never seemed more than just a brisk rebound fling.
If there’s more to Liz than just a pleasant mildly interesting girl faced a few tricky but eminently solvable issues Murphy isn’t able to convey it. (He does however succeed in finding a dozen different ways to photograph a bowl of spaghetti which I suppose is a kind of accomplishment.) Liz’s journey in Eat Pray Love never feels like more than just a lovely vacation the kind of thing usually commemorated in a Facebook photo album to be perused for a few minutes or so certainly not in a massively expensive (an exact budget number is suspiciously difficult to find) enormously tedious two-hour travelogue.
Pitt hid marriage problems from family
Hollywood actor Brad Pitt's family is stunned he's separating from wife Jennifer Aniston--because he kept his marriage problems secret from his relatives. The Troy star's grandmother, Betty Russell, was surprised when she received a telephone call from Pitt's father giving her advance warning of the impending separation. Pitt's publicist Cindy Guagenti issued a statement on behalf of the couple on Friday in which it was announced they have officially separated after four and a half years of marriage. Russell, 82, says, "When I talked to Brad at Thanksgiving in November he was happy as a lark. He never gave any hint that something might be up. I was not aware of it until Wednesday when Brad's father called me. He said they were going to separate, have a trial separation. I was just advised not to be shocked when it happened. It was a surprise to us. Brad is a family man. I had no idea this was coming. Obviously I was very sad to hear it. I don't want my grandson or Jennifer to be hurt."
Pitt and Aniston's farewell flight
Former Hollywood couple Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston shared a flight back to Los Angeles after announcing their four-year marriage was over. The Troy star and the Friends actress wife spent a week together on the Caribbean island of Anguilla before issuing a statement confirming the end of their union on Friday. But the love-split couple reunited for their return flight to Los Angeles the following day before going their separate ways. The 41-year-old hunk is now due to fly out to Japan to promote new movie Ocean's Twelve while 35-year-old Aniston is poised to start work on a new film. A friend says, "I don't think anyone really knows what their issues are but they're making the best of this. They're both committed to remaining friends. It's not the end of the world."
DeGeneres ex-lover seeks double revenge
The former girlfriend of Ellen DeGeneres is considering legal action against both the comedienne and her new lover, Ally McBeal actress Portia De Rossi. Chat show host DeGeneres ended her four-year relationship with photographer-director Alexandra Hedisonast month and is now sharing her Hollywood mansion with de Rossi, who recently split up with Ringo Starr's step-daughter Francesca Gregorini. Hedison is now planning to take palimony action against DeGeneres, and is reportedly suing de Rossi for "alienation of affection"--a legal phrase dating back to when seducing a spouse was regarded as theft. However, Richard Barry from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers tells British newspaper The Sunday Times this could be difficult to prove: "She would have to prove the seduction took place in those states which still recognise the law, like on holiday in Hawaii. If she can do that, she could cause a lot of financial damage."
DiCaprio's uncle: 'My nephew hasn't left Gisele'
Leonardo DiCaprio's uncle has lashed out at reports The Aviator star has split from longterm love Gisele Bundchen. The 30-year-old hunk has been dating the Brazilian supermodel on and off since 2000, but both are reluctant to discuss their relationship with the press, despite frequent rumours they have separated. But Dietmar Scheuner has confirmed his nephew flew to Recklinghausen, Germany with Bundchen to spend time with the actor's German family over the Christmas period, and their affectionate behaviour proved media reports wrong. Scheuner says, "He's still very much in love. All members of the family could see how happy the both of them are still together. She's a very pleasant girl. We had all had a good time together."
Evangelista's new flame
Sexy model Linda Evangelista has been spotted in the arms of a new man--pasta heir Paolo Barilla. Barilla--who raced as a Formula One driver in the 1980s--romanced the catwalk beauty in the tranquil Cortina D'Ampezzo resort in northern Italy, reports PageSix.com. Evangelista has previously been linked to Canadian rocker Bryan Adams and oil magnate Ugo Peretti.
Sutherland blames hearing problems on action roles
24 star Kiefer Sutherland blames his hearing problems on the numerous action movies he's performed in over the years. The London-born actor's hearing has deteriorated over the years, and he believes his career may have something to do with it. He says, "I'm pretty much almost all deaf in one ear and half deaf in the other. I think a lot of it is, I've been (acting) for about 20 years and (with) the gunfire (in movies) I can't wear the ear plugs because many times you have to have dialogue after, so you have to hear the other actor. I think the gunfire over the years has just kind of hurt my ears a bit."
Richardson refuses to live in mother's shadow
Nip/TuckTV star Joely Richardson refuses to live in her legendary parents Vanessa Redgrave and Tony Richardson's shadows--preferring to judge her acting career on its own merit. The British actress, 40, is proud of her Oscar-winning mother, Vanessa and late director father, Tony's respective body of work, but is not intimidated by their phenomenal success. She says, "I don't think, 'Well, what I do that will take me up to the level of my parents?' I have to block that off and say, 'You know what? Look at me and what I've done totally apart from my parents', and remind myself, 'Yeah, I'm actually doing all right."
Coolidge writes for herself
Actress Jennifer Coolidge has been forced to write her own comedy scripts, because she's found there are no film roles available for funny women. Coolidge, who appears in Matt LeBlanc's sitcom Joey, has found that while male comedians can score great movie roles, women aren't as fortunate. She says, "There are tons of these Adam Sandler/Jim Carrey movies. They don't have these vehicles for women. That's why my boyfriend and I are seriously writing."
Newman escapes fire
Hollywood actor Paul Newman has escaped serious injury after a sports car he was testing caught fire at Florida's Daytona Beach racetrack. The 79-year-old Oscar-winning star fled the vehicle after flames appeared from the engine compartment following his attempt to restart after spinning on a turn. Racing car enthusiast Newman says, "I don't know what happened. I'm fine. It just caught fire somehow." Organisers The Grand American Road Racing Association comment, "Newman made his way out of the car, was taken to the track's infield medical centre for precautionary measures and was released."
Robert plans pregnancy movie
New Hollywood mum Julia Roberts enjoyed pregnancy so much, she's planning a new movie about impending motherhood. The actress, who gave birth to twins Phinnaeus Walter and Hazel Patricia last November, is attempting to obtain film rights to best-selling British author Tony Parson's new novel The Family Way. The novelist's spokesperson tells PageSix.com. "Things are at an advanced stage. No contracts have been signed as yet, but we are currently in talks with Revolution Studios, with whom Julia has a deal."
Stephen King buys haunted house
Horror writer Stephen King has bought a haunted mansion next door to his home in Bangor, Maine. The Carrie author and his wife Tabitha paid $720,000 for the spooky three-storey Victorian building--known as the 'Charles P House'. But King, whose books have frightened millions of readers around the world, is not scared. A neighbor of the author says, "Stephen's not worried about a ghost. He thinks it adds character."
Grant's 'secret gay marriage'
Hollywood legend Cary Grant's shocking new biography alleges the late actor shared a secret "gay marriage" with American movie hunk Randolph Scott. Marc Eliot's book Cary Grant: Grant's Secret Sixth Marriage goes a long way to blow away the Nort by NorthwestT icon's image as a heterosexual lothario, although chronologically it would have been his first marriage. Eliot claims Grant embarked on a homosexual relationship with the rugged actor, who was known as Randy, after they met on the set of 1932 movie Hot Saturday, and their mutual physical attraction was immediate and strong. The actors lived together for the next 12 years, but separated when Randy became jealous of Grant's blooming romance with actress Virginia Cherrill.
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