East Pray Love (Review)

(8/13/10; Drama)
Julia Roberts, Billy Crudup, Viola Davis, Hadi Subiyanto, Javier Bardem, Richard Jenkins
SCR: Ryan Murphy, Jennifer Salt
DIR: Ryan Murphy
MPAA: PG-13, for brief strong language, some sexual references and male rear nudity.
BOX: $80,574,010 (US);
$124,015,545 (Foreign)

Roberts brings her movie star wattage to this vibrant and colorful Oprah-approved adaptation of Gilbert’s bestselling memoir. To the uninitiated (ahem, straight men), this is the story of a writer unsatisfied with her idealistic materialistic life who chucks it all (including her befuddled husband).

She spends a year traveling from Rome to India to Bali, in which she eats, prays and finds love. Okay, so the much-heralded autobiography may not translate into the most scintillating cinematic nail-biter but it is filled with strong performances, moments both funny and touching and stunning cinematography courtesy of Robert Richardson (make sure you don’t watch on an empty stomach).

Even after two decades, Roberts has the ability to find nuances in the smallest of moments. And I’ve said it before: Jenkins is one of the best working actors in America. His gruff but warm “Richard from Texas” damn near steals the movie.

But as perfect as the “Eat/Rome” section of the film is, the finale – with its “will she or won’t she find love with hunky Bardem?” cliffhanger – is nothing but stale leftovers. (Warner Bros.)


Author: Dennis Willis

Dennis Willis is an award-winning producer, TV host, producer, director, editor (he preferred Avid until a torrid affair with Adobe Premiere, and the rest is history), author and film critic (print and radio). Dennis produced and hosted the TV programs Reel Life, FilmTrip, Soundwaves (1983-2008) and produces the annual Soundwaves Xmas program. He is currently the film critic on KGO Radio in San Francisco, and a member of both the San Francisco Film Critics Circle and the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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