Elizabeth Gilbert (played by Julia Roberts) is a writer with a successful career. She is married to Stephen (by Billy Crudup) and she has a seemingly idyllic life – but she realises she’s not happy, she feels lost and confused and is searching for “something”. On a visit to Bali she meets a wise old man, Ketut Liyer (by Hadi Subiyanto) who starts her thinking about what’s real about her life – and what she really wants. So she takes it on – she leaves everything she knows and her best friend Delia (by Viola Davis) behind and starts her own journey. Along the way, she finds a short passionate romance with David (by James Franco), some wonderful locations, marvellous people including Richard from Texas (by Richard Jenkins) and much fruitful contemplation about her life, until she finally arrives at her point of calm awareness and her positive future opens up ahead of her.
I am ambivalent about this movie. At first my expectations weren’t high – it had never really been a movie that interested me hugely, but I wanted to see it – so I did. As the story developed I wondered whether I had been wrong in my original presumption about it – perhaps there was more to this story that simply a heart-broken woman searching for “herself” through her next big love. I was pleased that Elizabeth Gilbert had shown strength and independence in her adventures in Italy, India and Indonesia and I have no wish to cast doubt on the self-discovery and enlightenment that the real Liz Gilbert did actually experience in her real life journey (upon which the memoir and this movie are based). But I had hoped that the key lessons and the life principles she was starting to develop would be more about inner strength, independence, self-belief, spirituality and the realisation that a relationship isn’t the be-all and end-all of life. I hoped that she discovered she could find peace, solace and happiness in things other than romance. However, this was not the case – in the end the story is just another banal tale about losing yourself, finding yourself and then finding love – ho hum … I think a much better title for this movie is “It’s all about me really” …..
Note – the supporting roles are all good – Richard Jenkins and Javier Bardem are great and best is Viola Davis who, in 2011, was actually nominated for a Black Reel Award as Best Supporting Actress for this work. Shame their great talents are wasted in this – it’s no more than a chick flick, not a great piece for women as Oprah or Ellen may have mislead you to believe.
Made in 2010. Directed by Ryan Murphy