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Feast for the senses.

BASED on the memoir by Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Pray Love is a travelogue about a divorced woman's journey in search of herself after a failed marriage has left her emotionally battered and bruised. Ryan Murphy's film moves from New York to Italy, India and Indonesia, revelling in the changing architecture, landscape and cultures that provide a backdrop to her reawakening.

It's easy to see why Julia Roberts (above) was attracted to the project -the allure of a strong, independent heroine coupled with sequences in Rome which allow her to gorge on the freshest pasta and pizza. Envy is a terrible thing, but we feel it here.

The film opens in Bali where magazine writer Liz Gilbert (Julia Roberts) visits healer and medicine man Ketut Liyer (Hadi Subiyanto) for an article, and he reveals she will lose all of her money then get it back again.

Fast forwarding those months and Liz's marriage to Stephen (Billy Crudup) ends in acrimony and she seeks temporary refuge with best friend Delia (Viola Davis) before a brief dalliance with actor David (James Franco) convinces her to embark on a year-long odyssey.

Liz heads to Rome where she makes friends with Swedish beauty Sofi (Tuva Novotny), language teacher Giovanni (Luca Argentero) and their coterie, and rediscovers her passion for food.

"Ruin is the road to transformation," Liz surmises, heading next to India to an Ashram to find inner peace.

A Texan called Richard (Richard Jenkins) teaches her the basics about food hygiene - "Never touch anything except yourself" - and a touching friendship with 17-year-old Indian girl Tulsi (Rushita Singh), who is about to enter an arranged marriage, reminds Liz of her own wedding day.

Returning to Bali, just as Ketut predicted, Liz continues to search for food for her wounded soul, including a very pleasant flirtation with divorced father Felipe (Javier Bardem).

As the title suggests, Eat Pray Love is bookmarked into chapters of gastronomic, spiritual and romantic fulfilment, with occasional flashbacks.

Roberts is luminous against breathtaking locations including all of Rome's landmarks and colourful, sun-nourished eastern landscapes.

At 140 minutes, Eat Pray Love is not a short-haul flight of fantasy and by the end of Liz's scoffing, soul-searching and swooning audiences might well be feeling jet-lagged.

If it was writer-director Murphy's intention that we would emerge from the cinema feeling like we had spent an entire year on the road with his lead actress, he succeeds.

If only he'd taken advice from his hit TV series Nip/Tuck and performed a little cosmetic surgery on his script.

Review: Eat Pray Love STARRING: Julia Roberts, Billy Crudup, Viola Davis, James Franco, Richard Jenkins, Javier Bardem, Hadi Subiyanto, Tuva Novotny, Luca Argentero, Rushita Singh DIRECTOR: Ryan Murphy CERTIFICATE: PG RUNNING TIME: 140mins REVIEWER'S RATING: ... SHOWING: Cineworld, Showcase, Odeon & Vue VERDICT: With the exception of Crudup, male co-stars have sufficient screen time to make an impact - especially Jenkins who boasts the film's most emotionally devastating sequence
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Sep 24, 2010
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