Pace of ‘Love’ too slow to warm heart

Delaney Lovett

The combination of a bestselling book and Julia Roberts should be magic, but “Eat Pray Love” fell a little short of expectations.

“Love” follows the journey of Elizabeth Gilbert (Roberts), a woman who leaves everything behind for a year to travel the world. She sets out to find who she is without a man in her life, spending four months each in Italy, India and Bali.

She goes to Italy first, learning how to speak Italian for her enjoyment and exploring the landmarks. She eats, gaining back the weight she needed (and then some) from a drawn out, difficult divorce from the husband she once loved. In India, she visits the ashram of a Guru introduced to her by an ex-boyfriend, David (James Franco). There, she faces the difficult task of clearing her mind and opening her heart. This is when she really discovers herself and overcomes obstacles. On the Indonesian island of Bali, she finds balance with the help of a ninth-generation medicine man and, at first unwillingly, opens herself back up to love.

Roberts wonderfully portrays  the difficult role of Elizabeth, a woman who transforms from depressed to enlightened,  and from insecure to content and in love. Richard Jenkins steals the show with his role as Richard from Texas, Gilbert’s friend at the ashram who tells her the truth, even when it’s not what she wants to hear. Ketut (Subiyanto), the medicine man, brings a toothless cheer to the big screen; he and Gilbert have a heartwarming bond that audiences will admire.

If nothing more, “Love” is a treat to the eyes, filmed on location with the direction of Ryan Murphy (“Glee”) and the cinematography of Robert Richardson (“Inglourious Basterds”). There are fork-twirling, finger-licking Italian dishes that looked so delicious they made my mouth water. India and Bali are filled with fresh markets, breathtaking views, and traditional culture.

“Love” is based on the memoir by Elizabeth Gilbert. As with most books turned movies, there are pieces left out of the film that could have benefited the understanding or enjoyment of the viewers. Without reading the book, it might be difficult to understand some of the actions she takes. The film doesn’t nearly capture the same humor or dozens of witty comments she makes in her book.

Screenwriters Murphy and Scott, did a fairly impressive job creating the characters of Elizabeth’s ex-husband, Stephen (Billy Crudup), and ex-boyfriend, David, who were merely memories in Gilbert’s book.

The 133-minute runtime is excessive, splitting each country into a 30-minute-plus segment. As much as I enjoyed the scenery, I still found myself squirming in my seat. It would be beneficial if the screenplay were more like the book, where instead of beginning with a large segment about her past and relationships, the viewer saw only pieces of the person she used to be at a time. That would’ve allowed the viewer to better see how she changes as a person throughout the film, as well as modifying the pace.

“Love” has a strong start, encouraging strength and bravery in women. The pace slows at the end and since it’s based on a true story, it doesn’t have a overly dramatic ending. Rather, Gilbert learns how to be in love without conforming to a man.