First Paragraph of Roger Ebert's Rave Review
"The American" allows George Clooney to play a man as starkly defined as a sarmurai. His fatal flaw, as it must be for any samurai, is love. Other than that, the American is perfect: sealed, impervious amd expert, with a focus so narrow it is defined only by his skills and his master. Here is a gripping film with the focus of a Japanese drama, an impenetrable character to equal Alain Delon's in "Le Samourai," by Jean-Pierre Melville.
Julia Roberts & Javier Bardem
Billy Crudup & James Franco
Reviewed by Emma Harran
As a stand-alone feel-good movie, Eat, Pray, Love is lush and lovely. The camera bathes Italy with vitality, India with mystic mystery, and Bali with bustle and tranquility. As for its star, Julia Roberts has never been so radiant. Her famous smile stops the action, but who would be so crass to object?
As an adaptation of Elizabeth Gilbert's runaway best seller (still setting records) about a woman awash in existentialist pursuit of understanding herself -- the key to knowing fulfillment -- the writer's commitment is lost in what becomes an entertaining travelog.
For all of Ms. Gilbert's well-written light touch, she was systematically preparing her mind, spirit and body to achieve balance. The book had depth, sometimes sugar-coated, but millions of readers "got it." Occasionally the movie alludes to a search for psychic healing, but those who haven't read the book can't appreciate how healing were the four months in Italy nor how hard she worked (physically and psychically) at the Ashram. The movie's more accurate title could be Eat, Pray, Love (light).
Recommending the movie as a delightful Julia Roberts' vehicle is easy. The scenery is beautiful -- shot on location. The acting is good to excellent. The production values are first rate. The movie is basically gorgeous fluff. The best way to get anything out of it is to have read the book first. The alternative is to have lived long enough and widely enough to have been exposed to different cultures and spiritual beliefs. New readers of the book will have the movie scenes in Italy, India and Bali ready to tap into, and will find out what within the book generated enough excitement for Julia Roberts to sign on.
Reviewed Friday, 13 August 2010
See also Emma Harran's book review at http://www.theartsetc.com/eatpraylove.html
Final paragraph of the NYT review: " “Eat Pray Love” is unlikely to change anybody’s life or even to provoke emotions anywhere near as intense as those experienced, early and late, by its intrepid heroine. Its span may be global, but its scope is modest, and it accepts a certain superficiality as the price of useful insight. Watch. Smile. Go home and dream of Brazilians in Bali. "