A while back I reported that Julia Roberts was to star in an adaptation of the Elizabeth Gilbert novel Eat Pray Love, a fact I was looking forward to on account of the fact that a third of the film (the ‘Eat’ section) would be set in Rome. I hadn’t enjoyed the book (because it was so badly written) but thought that, as is sometimes the case with poor literature, it might make a better film. I was wrong. It’s now out on DVD, and I can sadly report that the film is even worse than the book.
There were some pleasant scenes of Rome, including, as has been widely observed, one in which Roberts could be eating San Crispino ice cream. I was perplexed by the fact that she was calling the Mausoleum of Augustus the “Augusteum” (not a term I’d ever heard used to describe it, maybe it’s an American thing?), and it’s not open to tourists. I’m pretty sure you can’t get into it without some kind of permit – it’s not a homeless shelter, as stated in the film.
I have read a lot of people saying that the book really ‘spoke to them’. Perhaps both the book and the film are aimed at an older audience than me, but I found it impossible to sympathise with Liz, despite having been through a similar situation myself. I put this down both to Julia Roberts’ awful acting and also the fact that, from the film, I really didn’t get what was so dreadful for her – the guy she was married to seemed perfectly nice and she seemed to have a nice life. What was unconvincing enough in the book was doubly implausible on film, which by its nature had to leave out a lot of the explanations in the book.
I found the opening of the film thoroughly crass, in which she claimed that Cambodian refugees, who had suffered from genocide, torture and starvation, would ask about guy problems (“I met this guy in the refugee camp”) when offered psychological counselling. Er, I doubt it. Just another example of Hollywood trying to sugarcoat everything. To be fair, I don’t remember this ridiculous statement being made in the book.
In conclusion, a dire film and not worth wasting over two hours of your life on, even if you’re a die-hard Rome fan and would watch anything set there. Even the Mary-Kate and Ashley movie “When in Rome” was better than this!