‘Eat Pray Love’ trumps romantic-comedy tropes

Neha Aziz

Director and “Glee” creator Ryan Murphy has taken a break from choir and show tunes for a journey of self-discovery. “Eat Pray Love” is based on the memoir of the same name by Elizabeth Gilbert that depicts her travels and the personal revelations that come with them.

Julia Roberts plays Gilbert, a smart, attractive woman who after a messy divorce decides to spend an entire year traveling to Italy, India and Bali to find spiritual guidance, personal identity and balance. She decides to embark on this ambitious odyssey after feeling as though she had lost her sense of self after starting a relationship with a much younger man, Dave (James Franco).

Gilbert travels to Italy specifically to indulge. She falls in love with the food, the people and the Italian language. It is in Italy where she fulfills the “eat” portion of her journey. In one particular scene, you see Gilbert simply enjoying a plate of spaghetti with absolutely no regrets or calorie counting.

Next, she sets her sights on an ashram in India to “pray.” Gilbert learns balance while she is there. She meets a slew of colorful characters, including a hippie from Texas (Richard Jenkins) who teaches her to forgive herself of the guilt with her divorce and in turn shares his own heart-wrenching story about his own yearning for forgiveness. She also meets a young girl who is set to have an arranged marriage and strikes up a friendship with her.

Elizabeth finds “love” in Bali when meets a man named Felipe (Javier Bardem). Felipe is strong, sensitive and confident — most women’s idea of the “perfect man.” While in Bali, Gilbert also becomes reacquainted with the medicine man whose story had attracted her to Bali in the first place.

The film does end in a typical romantic-comedy cliche, but this kind of ending is warranted for a film that is otherwise devoid of the tropes of romantic comedies. “Eat Pray Love” has breathtaking cinematography that makes the audience wish it were on Gilbert’s journey. If you are fan of Elizabeth Gilbert’s novel, you will not be disappointed with Murphy’s sensitive adaptation.

Grade: B