Movie Review: Eat, Pray, Love


Eat, Pray, Love [the movie] is fairly faithful to the book.  It brings the book to life with many scenes filmed where the actual adventure took place.  The ashram is different, but the pizzeria in Naples is the Pizzeria da Michele, which Elizabeth Gilbert put on the map. 

The photography is magnificently dreamy and beautiful.  I was shocked, however, by the levels of smog ~ especially in India. 


The movie begins with her trip to Bali and prophetic visit with Ketut Liyer.  He gives her a drawing and tells her: 

Look through your heart not your head. 

The EPL Journey Begins in New York

It quickly moves to New York City and highlights the tension of the competing roles and yearnings of women ~ career or family or both.  Best friend Delia has a box of baby clothes under her bed waiting until her husband is ready to be a father.  Elizabeth, on the other hand, has a box full of travel destinations. 

On the drive home, Elizabeth realizes she’s married the wrong man ~ Steve in the movie ~ Michael Cooper in real life.  Elizabeth [Julia Roberts] ends up on the floor of her bathroom in the middle of the night wishing she could slip out of the back door of her marriage and not stop running until Greenland.  She prays hard, “I’m a big fan of your work. . .I’m in serious trouble.” 

If you’ve read the book, you know that God sends her back to bed.  The movie gives a better glimpse into the litigation abuse that Elizabeth Gilbert experienced in real life than the book.  It also draws a finer point on the lack of support for her journey that she experienced from friends and family. 


Italy:  Eat 

The film transported me to Italy.  The movie takes liberty with each of the countries while retaining the essence of the book.  Elizabeth’s Italian experience focuses on her friendship with Sofi, a warm-hearted Swedish woman, and ~ of course ~ food.  OMG.  I wanted to eat the food.  Julia Roberts told Oprah [the show is being rebroadcast today] that she didn’t fake eating the food.  Like Elizabeth, she packed on the pounds ~ a “muffin top.” 

Her Italian friends taught her that Americans know entertainment, but we don’t do pleasure. 


India:  Pray 

Ms. Roberts told Oprah that they filmed the movie in sequence.  In the book, I fell in love with Texan Richard Vogt, who has sadly recently passed away.  In the movie, however, I thought he was a meddling, intrusive, controlling jerk.  I was touched by her connection to a young Indian woman who was compelled to enter into an arranged marriage. 

There were two main lessons in India: 

  • We settle for misery because we are afraid of change.
  • God dwells in all of us.

While the movie might have captured the essence of life in the ashram, I thought this segment was tedious and way too long.  The profound mystical sense I felt from the book was absent from the movie. 


Indonesia (Bali):  Love 

The scenes with Ketut Liyer were filmed at his home.  I was disappointed they cut out a part of her “smile with your liver” lesson.  While this segment of the movie stays true to the essence of Ms. Gilbert’s relationship with “Felipe,” it strays dramatically from the book.  The scenery is so beautifully filmed that I wanted to hop on a plane and see it for myself. 

In Bali, she learned: 

  • Sex lubricates the joints.
  • The only way to heal is to trust.

At the end of the movie (2 hours, 15 minutes), she discovers her word which translates from Italian:  “let’s cross over.”  In “Felipe,” Elizabeth Gilbert found her soul mate ~ someone who wanted to be her partner on her life’s journey and collect passport stamps with her. . .someone who didn’t want babies. 




The Washington Post did a photographic travel log of Ms. Gilbert’s journey.  Oprah published a comprehensive Elizabeth Gilbert page today.

3 responses to “Movie Review: Eat, Pray, Love

  1. Nice write up of EPL – I didn’t read the book
    but I did see the movie today. I’ve also seen Italy and Bali in person.

    One more factoid – I passed through Edmonds Washington on the train from Seattle to Vancouver.

    If you wish to read my comments about EPL you can check out my blog called The Arts


  2. JMM,

    Your review was EXCELLENT ~ way more detailed and comprehensive than my own. I was wondering how the film would resonate with someone who hadn’t read the book.

    Love the photos you chose to illustrate your review. Elizabeth Gilbert’s site seems to have crashed today. So, I am exceeding glad that you left a comment because I thought Richard from Texas’ last name was “Jenkins” rather than “Vogt.” I wanted to go back to her site to verify, but I wasn’t able to access it.

    I hope y’all reading this will check out JMM’s review and blog. Good stuff, folks.

    Sending hugs,
    Anne Caroline

  3. Da Michele in Napoli was famous long before Miss Gilbert “put it on the map”.

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