I love long-haul plane flights. No kidding. Love them.
It’s 24 hours where no-one expects anything from you. You slouch in your seat and play video-games while long-suffering helpers serve your merest whim. It’s like being a teenager all over again.
And the guiltiest of all pleasures – you allow yourself to watch Truly Terrible films.
And so to Eat Pray Love. Emma lasted about 20 minutes. I very nearly walked out. But I endured to the end. And now I know why Mark Kermode’s review was four words: Eat Pray Love Vomit.
The thing is Eat Pray Love should be a little slice of heaven. As Jonathan Edwards almost said, Heaven is a world of eat pray love.
The trouble with Julia Roberts’ eating, praying and loving is that all the verbs are in the reflexive. And so it’s a vision of hell.
Roberts’ character (Liz Gilbert) divorces her hapless husband for no particular reason other than his geeky romanticism. She then decides she needs an extended period of me-time. She eats in Italy. Prays in India. And finds love in Bali. But the object of all these activities is most definitely herself.
Using ground-breaking technology, the dialogue was written using Google’s Random-Sanskrit-Aphorism-Generator. But the translation breaks down fairly regularly, e.g. phrases like “quest dynamics” and “To lose balance sometimes for love is part of living a balanced life”. But those with a passing knowledge of the Oprahic languages should catch the gist.
Perhaps the film hits its nadir with its advice towards the end:
“Never let anyone love you less than you love yourself” – truly the spirit of antichrist.
The most disturbing scene comes from Richard Jenkins’ character in India. His advice to Liz throughout has been to stay at the Ashram until she learns to forgive herself. But it’s a lesson he’s found impossible to apply to himself and so we hear a genuinely moving account of his alcoholism and family break-down. He’s flown across the world and put himself through a thousand spiritual disciplines in order to find forgiveness.
The gospel has bad news and good news for him. Bad news: forgiveness is outside him. It cannot be self-bestowed. Good news: Christ freely gives it.
But the film painfully portrays the prison of self. And no-one escapes it. By the end, everyone is richer, fatter and more Satanic.
There’s only one saving grace. The film is so utterly grotesque it ought to wake people up to the bankruptcy of its vision.