Photo courtesy of Columbia Pictures
Julie Roberts plays Liz, a woman searching for meaning during a journey through three countries in the movie Eat Pray Love, which is now in theaters.

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Roberts returns better than ever
SHANA SCHWARZ ~ SPECIAL FOR THE FOOTHILLS FOCUS ~ 8/18/2010

Let it be known to all who read this that I have not read the book upon which Eat Pray Love is based. I intentionally decided not to, as I wanted to review the movie on its merits (of which is has many), and have since decided that this is a must-read for me, in addition to being a must-see for many of you.
The story follows our heroine, Liz (portrayed in understated fashion by Julia Roberts), on a journey of self-discovery through three countries following a revelation that she has never given herself time to be on her own long enough to figure her life out. On this journey she eats, prays and loves, while searching for the one word that can define her life. Sound simple enough? Sure, if you consider the breakdown and rebuilding of a human life simple, but these concepts are simultaneously the three most basic in life, yet the ones that so many people struggle the most with.
As Liz discovers, it is difficult to quiet the mind long enough to truly enjoy food (counting calories, anyone?), to pray with purpose (too many outside distractions), and to love openly (fear of rejection/heartbreak). It is in overcoming these obstacles that the story is built, and told beautifully throughout the film. Julia Roberts is completely in her element, and I will go so far as to say this is her best performance ever. She brings Liz to life with a subtle vulnerability that allows the audience to relate to her. Because of this, we are given one-liner after another about love and peace, yet it never feels forced or cheesy, though I’m sure cynics will disagree with me.
Though the entire cast shines in this film, I was especially moved by the performance of Richard Jenkins, who plays Richard from Texas- seriously, that’s what he’s billed as. Liz and Richard from Texas meet in India, and the connection that they build is instantly turbulent, engaging and key to both of their healing processes. The chemistry between the two of them on-screen is one of palpable friendship, and a scene they share regarding regret is both moving, and a catalyst for the next stage in Liz’s journey.
I was very much looking forward to this film, almost to the point of nervousness, as movies lately seem to be disappointing me. Against all odds, however, Eat Pray Love surpassed my expectations and, dare I say it, inspired me. I, like a lot of people I know, go to the movies hoping to be taken somewhere, and for the acting/directing/writing/music/story/cinematography/etc to be so good that we forget we are watching a movie. This is that kind of movie, and I wholeheartedly recommend it. A word of warning for husbands looking to take their wives to see this on date night: Italy/India/Bali are presented well in this film, and your wife might all of a sudden decide that she, too, needs to get away.
Watch and listen for special touches in the film, including creative camera work (sideways shots in New York clue us in to Liz’s internal unbalance), excellent editing (the peace of Italy juxtaposed next to the chaos of Liz’s arrival in India is staggering),
breathtaking cinematography (when do I get to go to Italy?) and a score that builds throughout the film and helps to transform what could almost feel like three separate chapters into one fluid story.
Be warned: this movie will attempt to shove love, peace, happiness and faith down your throat. I suggest opening your mouth wide and letting it all in. PS- My word is, and always will be, Love, in case you were wondering.
To contact Schwarz e-mail shana.foothillsfocus@yahoo.com