Eat Pray Love
Cast: Julia Roberts, Javier Bardem
Direction: Ryan Murphy
It's pretty as a picture all right. After all, the sun-drenched, globe-spanning settings range from Italy to India and Indonesia.
But wait, this adaptation of Elizabeth Gilbert's hugely popular 2006 memoir is long, lifeless and scarcely ignites even the smallest of sparks.
Catering unashamedly to the saccharine-loving viewer, Eat Pray Love zeroes in on the successful 30-something New York writer (the ever-effervescent Ms. Roberts) At a personal crossroads, she dumps her husband (Billy Crudup) and rebound lover (James Franco) to embark on a year-long spiritual quest around the world.
The first stop in her monotonous odyssey is Italy where she discovers the joy of doing nothing, all the while gorging on pizzas and pastas.
Next: she arrives at an Indian ashram hoping to find peace through the power of meditation and scrubbing floors.
Finally, it's time to take off for Bali where the $ 50 million travelogue culminates in the arms of a Brazilian divorcee (Spanish heartthrob Bardem) The screenplay is all too self-conscious about tackling feminist issues. A few moments of genuine emotional contact would have been a welcome change from the steady parade of touristy vistas. Somewhat inappropriately, most scenes are bathed in a golden glow.
Whether it's Rome, Bali or one of our ashrams, the locals come across as ethnic stereotypes who merely mouth platitudes.
Of course, the legions of fans of the book will be engrossed. But those unfamiliar with Ms. Gilbert's wish fulfillment fantasy are not likely to be converted.