I don’t think any other movie title has been so well selected as this one. Basically, throughout the movie, the main character Liz Gilbert (Julia Roberts), passes from one stage to the other, in beautiful and captivating sceneries, with her already known and acknowledged talent. Perhaps in the beginning of the movie, when she starts questioning her life as a married woman, the order should be “pray, eat, love”. But then again, this scene can be seen as a separate moment from the sequence, since it’s the trigger towards a new life.
The plot is simple and classical: a woman who’s unsatisfied with her life, starts an initiative journey of re discovering her true inner self and the passion for life. The cast – catchy and promising: Julia Roberts and Javier Bardem, acting together for the first time. Divine locations: Rome, Naples, India and Bali. What more can you ask for? Maybe a more in depth view on everything…
First come Rome and Naples, when, if you have never been there, you will definitely fall in love and want to get there some day. Liz completely dives into the Roman life, learning how to speak Italian, making local friends and re discovering the joy of eating. While in Naples, enjoying an authentic Marguerita, she convinces her friend to eat the whole pizza: “After you’ve taken your clothes off, the man doesn’t care, he thinks he’s won the lottery”.
In India, Liz learns (or at least tries) how to meditate and meets Richard, an ironic elder man, facing the same problem: a divorce. He becomes a sort of a new guide, helping her to let go, clear her mind and not stop believing in love. Mutatis mutandis, Liz becomes, involuntarily, a helping elder sister for an Indian girl, who is supposed to get married in the following days, with a man she had never met before. The marriage ceremony is just another opportunity for Liz to heal old wounds – while remembering her own wedding, she can now see how wrong they were and that letting go is the only solution. However, you are left with an odd feeling of shallowness, of not giving spirituality the importance needed.
So, it seems that all is prepared for a new love. In Bali she already has a friend, the old shaman she had met months ago, whose assistant she will become during her stay here. One day, riding the bicycle, destiny interferes and Felipe (Javier Bardem) almost runs into her with the car. They meet again at a party and slowly, a nice “friendship” starts. But until Liz does not completely open up and allows herself to freely love again, nothing is possible between them. Obsessed with the balance principle that Keytun (the shaman) had explained her, she sees the affair with Felipe as an obstacle. On her birthday, he wants to take her away with the boat, but she refuses and breaks up with him. The same Keytun is the one who shows her the way: indeed, we all search for the balance, but the storms of love are always welcome.
Even though the movie might sound silly and cliche, I believe it actually manages to convey its message: learn to accept yourself, to admit your flaws and cope with them, always look for a balance in your life, but remember that a syncope is more than welcome once in a while, especially when it comes to love. In one word, I think the movie is about CONFIDENCE: in oneself, in the others, in your dreams and desires. In the end, she and Felipe (Javier Bardem) start another boat trip together. In Rome, her new friends had asked her to describe herself in a word. Now, Liz has finally found her word: attraversiamo (let’s cross). And you can only cross an ocean with someone you confide in…
PS – Quick notes on two other movies I saw, but didn’t have time to write about!
–The American: brilliant George Clooney, as usual, in a not so usual role – a weapon producer. We all know it’s an author film and we appreciate the effort to make authentic cinema. However, there are too many long moments of waiting for something to happen or at least for the leaves in the trees to move. Then, when action starts, the waiting was not always worth it…The plot is cliché, the last mission of a legendary weapon dealer before retiring, but with George Clooney as main character and Anton Corbijn directing, it would have have had all the chances to be a hit. Still, the butterfly tattoo on the neck of Clooney does not compensate for the emptiness of some scenes.
–My afternoons with Margueritte: a sweet (at times too sweet) friendship statement and the hope that it’s never too late for anything. Highly recommended for Gerard Depardieu fans, who is very comfortable in the poor peasant role, resented by his mother and laughed at in school. One afternoon in the park he meets Margueritte (Gisele Casadesus, a theatre actress who does a great job in front of the cameras as well) and they share the passion of counting pigeons. She will initiate him in her life long passion for reading and manage to give him back his self esteem and desire for learning.