There are films that test a movie critic, and I imagine that Eat Pray Love is going to become a solid example of such a film. Back in 1966, a little movie directed by John Huston came out called, The Bible: In the Beginning…. Huston also starred in the film, along with George C. Scott, Richard Harris, Ava Gardner, Peter O’Toole, and several others. You may know it. Upon it’s release, not one critic was heard to say, “That movie was awful. I don’t believe any of that crap happened.”

While the story, whether original or based on a previous work, is certainly fair game in the world of film criticism, the thing has gone wrong when you get to the point that what you are actually doing is reviewing the book, and not the film. It’s difficult, usually, to know just how far is too far, but I will bet that I could have put together around 80% of the Eat Pray Love reviews you’ll find (and I would agree with most of them, by the way) before watching a single frame. These are, ipso facto, not movie reviews at all.

Liz Gilbert is a self-centered, shallow woman going through a mid-life crisis as only the real success stories of our self-centered, shallow society with nothing like a “real” problem to occupy their mind can. The movie, quite honestly, is fairly brilliant, and every negative you will hear leveled at it is actually a triumph of director Ryan Murphy, who co-wrote the screenplay with Jennifer Salt. How can delivering the exact feel of a novel be a fault of a film? Apart from a slightly rushed view of the time in India, which doesn’t give a perfect impression of the effort, the film is quite simply a stunning, remarkable translation. []

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