Eat Pray Love, at first glance looks like it could be a winner. That is because when you see the previews, you see a combination of leading lady Julia Roberts (no complaints here) and the slick cinematography of Robert Richardson (Inglorious Basterds, Platoon, JFK, Kill Bill, etc). It doesn’t hurt that the composer is none other than the extremely talentedDario Marianelli (Atonement, Pride & Prejudice). Pretty music, pretty photography, pretty lady eating yummy-looking food in exotic locations and very little dialogue make for a pretty disguise.
If that sparked your interest, which more than likely it did, then the list of cast members: James Franco,Javier Bardem, Viola Davis & Richard Jenkins, only strengthened your anticipation of the film. A stellar cast such as this only comes around a few times a year. Upon further inquiry, you might have learned that the film is directed by Ryan Murphy, the same fellow who brings us Glee. Unless this is a Mama Mia!remake, what could possibly go wrong?
Not only that, but you’ve probably noticed EPL posters up, the original book written by Elizabeth Gilbertleaning nicely atop stacks of itself on the front tables at Borders or Julia Roberts on Oprah, Regis & Kellyor Letterman, etc. All of this evidence, when taken at face value, seems like an open and shut case. “I will go see this film!”, you say. While you may have every right to do so, please allow me to present a counter-argument.
Eat Pray Love has not been screened by critics. This is not a good sign since it will be released this Friday, August 13. When I say, “not a good sign”, I mean that, more than likely, the movie will not be good. Many films that are not screened for criticsdo not do so in order to prevent negative reviews published before people actually see it. They want your money before you realize that it’s no good. The studios realize that despite the all-star cast and crew, the source material just won’t cut it, which brings me to my next point…the extent to which the film is being marketed.
No one can blame producers for getting Oprah on board, but the product placement such as: jewelry,clothing lines,handbags, teabags, travel packages and other unnecessary merchandise seem to be overcompensating for a potentially mediocre film…a film whose core message is about doffing material possessions and setting off on a journey in search of self and enlightenment. It seems that the film’s campaign attempts to exploit the desperation of many middle-aged, divorced women with disposable income who, upon after watching this film, will realize that they need to find themselves…and the first place they will look…HSN’s Eat Pray Love segment. This isn’t Star Wars. It would be one thing of the film’s target audience were children 10 and under, but this film reaches out to women.
Suffice it to say that EPL will not make its money at the box office, but at department stores.