Director: Ryan Murphy
Writers: Ryan Murphy & Jennifer Salt
Starring: Julia Roberts, Billy Crudup, James Franco, Richard Jenkins, Javier Bardem
"To lose balance for love sometimes is part of living a balanced life." Elizabeth Gilbert (Roberts), a New York journalist writing a piece on a medicine man in Bali, asks the man about her relationship. He predicts she will be married twice, one short and one long, so she instantly begins to doubt her marriage to Steven (Crudup). One night, after praying to God for the first time, she nigh-spontaneously realizes she doesn't want to be married anymore. After a brief fling with an actor (Franco) from a play she wrote, she decides to fulfill her dreams of world travel by indulging her body through Italian food and her soul through a stay at an ashram in India before returning to Bali at the behest of the medicine man.
Despite this film's 38% on RottenTomatoes, I went into it wanting to like it. Julia Roberts is a great actress, and America's Sweetheart for a reason. This movie is a misuse of her talent. I can only fault the story so much, though, as it actually happened (more or less). They needed her to make this work, though, because otherwise you end up hating the protagonist when she leaves her husband instead of working out their marital issues (I still hated her for it). Franco is one of the high points of the film, despite his little screentime. His character provided some great laughs, with exchanges like this:
"How did you become a vegetarian?"
"I saw some cows slaughtered once."
Sounds better than it looks on paper, I promise. Crudup dancing (albeit in an inappropriate flashback) is good for a chuckle too, and (apparently by accident) he produces some sympathy post-divorce. And as much as I've enjoyed Jenkins in the past (you may recall his work as the bald gym worker in Burn After Reading), his well-accented Texan in this film's tendency to refer to Roberts as "Groceries" bugged me, reminiscent as it was of Jay calling Silent Bob (both of Kevin Smith fame) "Lunchbox," the difference being that Roberts is thin enough for her clavicle to poke out for half the film and Smith...is a little bigger. Bardem's role in this magnifies that from No Country For Old Men; without the funny haircut, cattle gun, and coin, he's a total pushover. If you're a woman who has ever had relationship troubles, or wants to travel the world, see this movie; if you're anyone else, take a pass on it. D