Eat Pray Love

Adapting a book to a movie is difficult and daunting, especially if the story/novel is told from the first person.  The movie is then bogged down in narration because the story requires that the audience know exactly what the character is thinking at that moment in time.  And that's exactly how the movie Eat Pray Love starts out.  The thing is, novels and movies are different mediums, and each has their particular strengths.  Books lend themselves to a psycological/mental intimacy that few movies ever achieve (although Memento and Black Swan are pretty near perfect in that regard).  Why?  Because books use words.  Movies, on the other hand, use words, but the impact of movies stems from the visual impact the story carries.  For example, the furtive glance, the pristine scenery, the physical comedy all lend themselves better to a visual medium.  And other than the beautiful scenery of Italy, Bali and India, Eat Pray Love fails in almost every regard.

Another difficulty with adapting a movie from a book is the compulsion to take every detail recited in the book and put it on screen.  Screenwriters and directors try to "stay true to the book," and keep "essential" details in the screenplay because they believe it moves the story along.  In fact, this tactic hurts more than helps because the pace of the story slows down and eventually the audience loses interest.  If the visuals aren't enough to captivate the moviegoer, then they find themselves squirming in their seats wondering when the movie will end.  It's the summer blockbuster full of special effects (Pandora, Harry Potter, Iron Man), explosions (any Michael Bay movie), or fantastical wonder (Alice in Wonderland) that generate popularity with moviegoers.  And that may be why Eat Pray Love was considered a box office failure, at least in my book.  I loved the 2/3 of the book that I actually read.  But the movie?  Not so much.

When watching Eat Pray Love, I wanted to go on a spiritual journey with Liz, just as Elizabeth Gilbert took me on her quest for self-fulfillment in her novel.  But instead, I spent my time marveling at the wonders of Italy, especially the food, the grittiness of India, and the picturesque beaches of Bali.  Sure, Julia Roberts' smile is as blinding as ever, but that's not enough to save this movie.  Take it from me, you want to stick to the novel on this one.


  1. Agreed- Julia Roberts was lovely, but the movie lacked the depth and believability it needed. That's not to say that the book necessarily had those things; I appreciated the book in some ways but overall found it indulgent, and it was difficult to relate to the author.

  2. @Gina, the Oscars are not until Feb. 27, 2011, so you haven't missed anything!