Film review: Eat Pray Love

Yawn, fidget, stretch. Peter Bradshaw is a reluctant passenger on Julia Roberts's interminable spiritual journey

Sit, watch, groan. Yawn, fidget, stretch. Eat Snickers, pray for end of dire film about Julia Roberts's emotional growth, love the fact it can't last for ever. Wince, daydream, frown. Resent script, resent acting, resent dinky tripartite structure. Grit teeth, clench fists, focus on plot. Troubled traveller Julia finds fulfilment through exotic foreign cuisine, exotic foreign religion, sex with exotic foreign Javier Bardem. Film patronises Italians, Indians, Indonesians. Julia finds spirituality, rejects rat race, gives Balinese therapist 16 grand to buy house. Balinese therapist is grateful, thankful, humble. Sigh, blink, sniff. Check watch, groan, slump.

Film continues, persists, drags on. Wonder about Julia Roberts's hair, wonder about Julia Roberts's teeth, wonder about permanence of Julia Roberts's reported conversion to Hinduism. Click light-pen on, click light-pen off, click light-pen on. Eat crisps noisily, pray for more crisps, love crisps. Munch, munch, munch. Munch, munch, suddenly stop munching when fellow critic hisses "Sshhh!" Eat crisps by sucking them, pray that this will be quiet, love the salty tang. This, incidentally, makes me plump, heavy, fat. Yet Julia's life-affirming pasta somehow makes her slim, slender, svelte. She is emoting, sobbing, empathising. She has encounters, meetings, learning-experiences. Meets wise old Texan, sweet Indian girl, dynamic Italian-speaking Swede who thinks "Vaffanculo" means "screw you".

Roberts eats up the oxygen, preys on credulous cinemagoers, loves what she sees in the mirror. Julia shags Billy Crudup, James Franco, Javier Bardem. Ex-husband, rebound lover, true romance. Crudup is shallow'n'callow, Franco is goofy'n'flaky, Bardem is hunky'n'saintly. We hate Crudup, like Franco, love Bardem. Divorced Javier is gorgeous, sexy, emotionally giving. About his ex-wife we are indifferent, incurious, uninterested. She is absent, off the scene, unnamed. That's how Julia likes it, needs it, prefers it.

Movie passes two-hour mark, unfinished, not over yet. Whimper, moan, grimace. Wriggle, writhe, squirm. Seethe, growl, rage. Eat own fist, pray for death, love the rushing sense of imminent darkness. Scream, topple forward, have to be carried out of cinema. Reach life crisis, form resolution, ask editor for paid year's leave to go travelling. Editor stands up, shakes head, silently mouths the word: "No". Nod, turn, return to work. Personal growth, spiritual journeys, emotional enrichment? Not as easy as 1-2-3.


Peter Bradshaw

The GuardianTramp

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