Sunday, 26 September 2010

REVIEW: Eat, Pray, Love

No matter how good my life is, it will never be good enough for me.

Holy shit. Its rare that you see a movie that not only don't you like, but angers you on every conceivable reactionary level. I feel spiritually, philosophically, psychologically and narratively violated by this movie. I think this goes straight into the much coveted company of the top five most self-satisfied films, but somehow its a worse experience then any of them. I can't in good conscience give it the review I want to give it, because its shot quite nicely, makes good visual use of its variety of exotic locations and has a couple of good characters/performances, but for what it stands for, the message it tries to sell? Fuck this movie. Fuck it in the face.

I should say before the machete's and hacksaws come out that a lot of writing revolves around self-absorption, and in a way it has to. A person can know nothing as well as their own thoughts and experiences so that has to play a part in any creative endeavor. But a writer in a way has a responsibility to be reflective, to be analytical, to question etc. They can just sell self-obsession as gospel. Or they can, but I can say that its toxic. The lead character in this thing Elizabeth Gilbert, played bizarrely joylessly by Julia Roberts, engages in what I can only think to describe as an extreme form of social capitalism, in which people are resources to use and discard. God and spirituality exist for and at your convenience and life should be lived through endless self-indulgence. This kind of sounds like an awesome character, but Gilbert is presented as some kind of trail-blazing hero, a feminista warrior woman whom the female gender should hear roar and adore. But this movie is clearly to me about a woman who has a massive nervous breakdown because she is bored with her life. Its not that anything has gone wrong particularly, as she says, she's living the life she wanted to life, a privileged, rich, cultured existence in New York. But basically its not good enough. Her life should be a permanent fantasy, where every day is a delight and everything revolves wonderfully around her, and boredom is something she is simply to good to experience.

So you know, she leaves her perfectly lovely husband who she loves and goes around the world, where she is always the center of attention and all the people of the world seem to love her. Eat, Pray, Love is the worst kind of ' Hey, look at me. LOOK AT ME.' storytelling I have ever seen, without a whiff of self-awareness and the pretension of enlightenment. In a way I can appreciate the popularity of it because it works as a wish-fulfillment for people who've put responsibility first, but empowerment is one thing and glutinous self-indulgence is another, and why I should have to watch a film about someone getting everything they want all the time and being constantly disappointed by it is something I don't understand and object to thus. That's not enlightenment, its entitlement. And as I apologize profusely for that piece of shit assonance rhyme, one can't help but think this is a glorified self-help book, selling cheap spiritual solutions to rich white people with too much time on their hands. I'd like you to consider that this is two and a half hours of hysteric self-assurance. I hated this movie.

Thankfully, it has a couple of strong moments and performances, Richard Jenkins is as ever terrific, playing a wise Texan Gilbert meets in India, Viola Davis and Billy Crudup bring a lot to small roles and Roberts has her moments I guess, but she does seem an autopilot, and if she somehow fenagles an Oscar nomination for this its the first sign of the rapture, so make your peace with God. A golden globe nomination is a given though. This is far from the worst film this year, but I think it may be the most repellent. For me at least, a poor male twentysomething. Admittedly not the target audience. Still, I feel I make a fair effort to point out misogyny and the many instances of male wrong doing in movies, so not to acknowledge this bullshit would just be chicken shit. Unfortunately the audience I saw this with enjoyed it quite a bit, but in fairness they laughed hysterically at the Life As We Know It trailer so they can fuck off is well. And fuck Ryan Murphy, fuck this epic waste of my time and fuck you too, because fuck it.

Rating: 5/10 (fuck it)


Nicholas Prigge said...

I enjoyed this review. A lot. My whole problem is Billy Crudup is my favorite actor and I've seen every one of his movies....except for this. So I feel like I have to see it but, yeah, I really don't want to.

Louis Baxter said...

Well he's still good so it shouldn't ruin him for you. But it may ruin everything else.