Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Movie Eat, Pray, Love: Not a Life-Alterning Experience

I was in Naples the day that Da Michele Pizzeria shut down to film Julia Roberts eating its famous pizza. I wrote about it here. My family was in Naples for the first time, but I couldn't show them the best pizza in the world. In the movie, Julia Roberts eats the famous Neapolitan pizza in slices. This is something the pizzaioli (pizza makers) only do for tourists. Only American-pizza comes in triangular slices. That's when I shut off the movie Eat, Pray, Love.


As a book, I respect Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love. I couldn't read past the first forty pages, but I understood why people like it. My own life somewhat mirrors that of Elizabeth Gilbert's. I left everything to go abroad. I quit my job, put my stuff in storage, got rid of my apartment, and moved to Italy. This is a awesome image of course. It is freedom. It is gazing at the Pantheon drunk on Fernet Branca at midnight. It is hiking the Amalfi Coast. It's drinking local wines and eating fresh seafood with new Italian friends. And it is this image that Gilbert's book captures, but that the movie-version of Eat, Pray, Love ruins.

Here's my point. The movie-version of Eat, Pray, Love leaves out the most important part of a romantic journey abroad: discovery. For most people, a journey to Italy is a once in a lifetime luxury. If you want to make it more than just a vacation - if you want to make it an exploration - you have to stay for a longer period of time; you have to save money, work hard, and spend days and nights planning. This is totally do-able (where there's a will there's a way) but I'm afraid that the movie Eat, Pray, Love will leave most people with an empty feeling. This hollowness comes from the fact that Julia Roberts's character doesn't have to risk failure, while you and I do. Her character is merely a wealthy woman who feels like traveling because she got divorced. Her publisher loads her with dough and away she goes. She represents an luxurious life, not a reality. This won't happen to you. It won't happen to me. It takes hard work and passion, two things that the movie Eat, Pray, Love leaves out. Roberts is a tourist, and the movie represents Italy as a tourist sees it, not as a life altering experience.


They do drink a lot of wine though. That was cool. But I'm still calling Phony.

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