After 182 straight weeks on The New York Times best-seller list, Elizabeth Gilbert's soul-searching travel memoir Eat, Pray, Love is, indisputably, a phenomenon — and the buzzy new film adaptation, starring Julia Roberts, seems destined to further expand its fan base. Directed by "Glee" creator Ryan Murphy, the movie transforms Gilbert's year-long sojourn through Italy, India, and Bali into a visual feast, say several top critics. But how does it stack up against the worship-inspiring book?
Fans, get ready: Eat Pray Love is a "beautifully rendered" adaptation, says Betsey Sharkey in the Los Angeles Times. In fact, "the film gets better" anytime it "pulls away from the book." Just as the memoir was "a perfect vehicle for Gilbert" to work through her "highs and lows," the movie "creates a space" for Julia Roberts "to give into wave after wave of feelings as she moves through resentment, guilt, regret, forgiveness, joy and hope as her character struggles to recreate her life." Don't forget "to bring tissues."
"Movie review: Eat Pray Love"
It's pretty, but shallow: Though Eat Pray Love is a "glorious travelogue" bathed in "magic-hour light," says Steven Rea in the Philadelphia Inquirer, "it lacks the resonances of Gilbert's book." Roberts' character "Liz" feels "less like an urgently searching woman" and more like "a two-dimensional pilgrim." And Murphy's direction is rather conventional. Perhaps if "a more adventurous, idiosyncratic director" had made the film, "Eat Pray Love would have been something more than a slick and scenic synthesis of Gilbert's book."
"Eat Pray is a too-slick version of the book"
A long day's journey to the final credits: Eat Pray Love certainly lacks the "sharp realism at the center of Gilbert's book," says Katey Rich in Cinema Blend. That could easily be forgiven, however, if it weren't for its "gargantuan" two-and-a-half-hour running time. "Yes, it is fun to sit back and marvel at the scenery and the food and Julia Roberts' enduring star power" and I'm sure you'll "immediately book a trip to Bali" after leaving the theater or at least "make a beeline for your neighborhood's best pizza place." But the film is overindulgent.
"Eat Pray Love — Review"