I’ve just spoken to an exceptionally bright female industry professional who’s an Eat Pray Love-hard. She saw the big Ryan Murphy-Julia Roberts film last night at the Grove in L.A., and her basic reaction is (a) she was a wee bit disappointed that the pic didn’t tap into the spiritual and metaphysical currents that the book uncovered but (b) she wasn’t that disappointed and was more or less happy with it.
“I was sitting next to a woman who hadn’t read the book and she thought it was great,” my source says, “but if you’ve read the book, and I’m a superfan…I think it’s hard to live up to great expectations. So it was good, not great, but perfectly enjoyable.
“I totally didn’t buy the Billy Crudup-is-a-problem-husband thing…not a bit. He and Julia didn’t look like they fit together. In the book this breakup section went on a long time, and it ended with her curled up on the bathroom floor, and there’s really no question that she has to leave this guy. But they don’t explain it much in the film. In the movie she’s lying in bed next to Crudup and saying ‘I don’t want to be married.’ He’s kind of a wanderer, and seems to be in love with her. He’s said he doesn’t want to go to Arruba, but that’s no reason to get divorced! She’s doing okay and has a book deal so what’s her problem? She’s like some some whiny chick.
“The Italy section was fine, the India section is fine, the Bali section is fine. The Richard Jenkins character was very prominent in the book and he’s very good here. The Javier Bardem character, whom she got married to in real life, is great. The James Franco character is good and believable. It matched what I remember from the book, which I read twice.
“The bottom line is, when you have a book that has resonated so much with readers on a spiritual basis, its very hard to translate that into a film. I know in order to reach a movie audience, you have to sacrifice the in-depth spiritual metaphysical stuff because that doesn’t translate well in [filmic] terms. But in the book, I underlined passages. It’s a very enjoyable movie, but I didn’t cry once. Reading the book, I was sobbing.”