Eat Pray Love
(M) Julia Roberts, Javier Bardem, Billy Crudup, Viola Davis
Jesus Christ declared: I am the way, the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
Elizabeth Gilbert disagrees. She thinks “eat, pray, love” is the way to truth, life and “God”. Based upon Gilbert’s memoir of her globetrotting year to find herself, this dull and disturbing movie is a shrine to extreme indulgence masquerading as a search for purpose beyond self.
What Gilbert professes to live by at the end of this excruciating 140-minute odyssey into hollow narcissism is a fine example of inventing a belief system and stating it as fact.
So confident about what she has concocted, Gilbert earnestly explains that, by following her self-centred pilgrimage, “the truth will not be withheld from you; I can’t help but believe that”.
What does that mean?
Meeting Gilbert (played by Julia Roberts) and husband Stephen (Billy Crudup) in brief scenes that provide scant context, why she decides to divorce him, enter a rebound relationship and then travel the world for 12 months (“I’ve never given myself a chance to be me,” she justifies) is weakly supported.
As a consequence, it’s almost impossible to care about Gilbert’s pretentious safari through Italy, India and Bali, as she complains about how dreadful her lot is while apparently the cause of it.
What she does to sort herself out is turn to anything involving meditation, positive thinking, banal prophecies and other soul-searching stuff — always reliant on how she can twist it.
“Spirituality” is a popular description of what many believe is a force greater than themselves which exists within.
From a Christian perspective, Gilbert’s quest reflects how this deep-rooted need for something “more” points to our being made in God’s image (as the Bible emphasises). Being the imprint of the Creator means we are inherently called back into union with our maker; but people find all kinds of ways to relate and respond to their spiritual component.
Gilbert hangs out at an ashram in India where she meets a Texan bloke who she jokingly derides for spouting mantras which sound like “bumper stickers”.
Evidently, Gilbert has no sense of irony, as the cavalcade of life advice she unleashes would fill a parking station of New Age vehicles.
Eat Pray Love promotes a worldview knowingly constructed from what Gilbert thinks “God” is, as opposed to what God actually is — and what God calls us to be. Where do you put your trust, then? In people or God?
Ben McEachen is the Editor of Empire Magazine and attends Christians in the Media Church, Annandale.
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