Tuesday, 28 September 2010


Sony Pictures Releasing
Now Showing

It's not easy being a woman – it's a man's world after all – and, it seems, no more fun being a chick flick. When Sex and the City 2 released earlier this year, it was met with howls of derision (not all of it unwarranted) by mostly male critics. The majority of female critics seemed to be more lenient towards Carrie and the girls; sure they were being culturally insensitive whilst holidaying in the Middle East but they were still the independent gal pals they loved – and they looked fab!

Not as savagely but with no less venom, male critics in the US took to Eat Pray Love, the film version of the bestselling quasi-self help, self discovery journal written by Elizabeth Gilbert. Played here by Julia Roberts, in her first full-on movie star role for some time, Liz travels to Italy, India and Indonesia in search of herself following a divorce; eating pasta and pizza in Roma before heading to an ashram in India for some spiritual enlightenment, and finishing the year in picturesque Bali with the prospect of a new relationship (and all bankrolled by her publisher: where do I get a writing job like that?).

The complaint by critics seemed to be that white, Western women who could afford to travel the world for a year were in no position to whine about their lot in life, as if material and financial well being denied one's right to be unhappy. Admittedly it can be seen as indulgent to cry 'poor me' while in the midst of the poverty of India (although director Ryan Murphy, creator of TV's Glee, is at pains to avoid the dark sides of any of the film's locales), but, hey, it's Liz's party and she'll cry if she wants to.

My main complaint with Eat Pray Love is the length: 140 minutes is far too long to spend watching someone else's holiday home movies. But Julia Roberts makes for agreeable company, and Richard Jenkins is fun as an ostensibly cantankerous Texan, in India attempting to find inner peace.

I haven't read Elizabeth Gilbert's book (but then I have an aversion to anything of a self help/discovery nature) but I shouldn't think the (mostly female) audience, most of whom will have read Eat Pray Love, will have too much of a problem with the film version.

I didn't find it particularly deep or meaningful but conversely, it wasn't the slap in the face to feminism or celebration of white, middle class largess that some have suggested it is. Sometimes, fellas, a chick flick is just a chick flick.

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