Eat Pray Love

Release Date: August 13, 2010

Oh, this looks like an exciting film.

On the Big Board
Position Staff In Brief
95/123 David Mumpower Richard Jenkins is phenomenal. Everything else about this movie is a chore.
169/190 Max Braden I get that Roberts' character is trying to find herself, but by piggybacking off others while refusing to give back, she is a horribly selfish character.

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Elizabeth Gilbert's 2006 vastly popular memoir Eat Pray Love, about a middle-aged woman's journey to self-discovery, was begging to be filmed. Now, with the help of a little-known actress, Julia Roberts, Columbia will attempt to bring that personal journey to the big screen. The hope is that with such a small name audiences will find a deep connection to the story's dramatic thrust. In reality, Julia Roberts' career hasn't hit as many highs as recently as she did during her 90s peak, despite successes like the Ocean movies, Closer and even a Golden Globe nomination in Duplicity. However, early in 2010 she did prove with the help timing and a large ensemble, she could still open a movie to big numbers with Valentine's Day.

Later in 2010 she hopes she can help pull Eat Pray Love to garner some outside Oscar prospects. Helping her in this is a cast of more relevant stars; James Franco, Javier Bardem, Viola Davis, Billy Crudup and Richard Jenkins. Bardem, Davis and Jenkins were all nominated for Oscars in 2008, while Franco and Crudup remain highly respected. Given the pedigree of this cast, it's no surprise some have pegged this as a potential Oscar player. More realistically, it seems as if this movie holds more hope for those that were moved by Gilbert's journey or fascinated by her book and hope that a familiar face will make that journey better on the big screen. At the same time, I'm sure most guys can't wait for another girl power Julia Robert's movie on date night. The movie will need to rely on Roberts as opposed to her co-stars. While respectable actors, none have proven to be box office draws outside of the arthouse crowd. The last couple of years have shown that there still is a strong market for female centric movies; Doubt, Julie and Julia and even The Blind Side have proven this, and Eat Pray Love may very well fall into the same category.

Directed by Ryan Murphy, the movie doesn't appear to be all that different in tone than his other directorial effort, 2006's Running With Scissors. Like Eat Pray Love, Scissors was also based on a memoir, featured a strong supporting cast and had a reliable actress (Annette Bening) in the lead role. Scissors had been set up as a potential Oscar contender, particularly for Bening, but failed to gain any traction during awards season. For whatever reason, Scissors didn't register with audiences either, but Murphy should have more success with this movie. Columbia must be hoping for potential award attention for this vehicle, especially for Roberts who has not been nominated since winning for Erin Brockovich. Roberts and Murphy apparently became very close during the filming, so much so that Roberts has been asked to guest on Murphy's TV creation Glee. Murphy also found success with his other creation Nip/Tuck, so despite his first failure at movies Murphy has proven popular on the smaller screen.

The trailer provides much of the same acting style we've seen previously from Roberts - lots of smiling, as if we forgot that her teeth can be seen from space. That said, a particular market exists for Roberts and the trailer promises her fans much of the same. However, at this point I don't know how well she can convey such personal characterization given her star level. Additionally, how much broad spread appeal does she have anymore? The last decade saw Roberts sharing lead credits with other stars (the Ocean movies, Charlie Wilson's War, Closer and Duplicity) rather than carrying a movie herself. 2000's Erin Brockovich was the last film she was able to carry on her name alone; whether she can have similar success with Eat Pray Love is uncertain. People will have to want to see Julia Roberts trying to find herself in exotic locations. The book succeeded based off the author conveying her personal experiences, and Roberts will have to tap into that to make this movie a success. However, if the movie stays true to the trailer, audiences will be treated to a true fish out of water story as Roberts encounters quirky characters, exotic animals and lots of wine. If Eat Pray Love fails, Murphy might want to consider sticking with television, and just maybe Roberts won't be relied on as often as she once was. (Anthony Daquano/BOP)


Vital statistics for Eat Pray Love
Main Cast Julia Roberts
Supporting Cast James Franco, Javier Bardem, Viola Davis, Billy Crudup, Richard Jenkins
Director Ryan Murphy
Screenwriter Ryan Murphy
Distributor Sony/Columbia
Trailer Click Here for Trailer
Official Site http://www.letyourselfgo.com/
Rating PG-13
Running Time 133 minutes
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture


     


 
 

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