Eat Pray Love
Genres: Drama | Romance
Motion Picture Rating (MPAA): Rated PG-13 on appeal for brief strong language, some sexual references and male rear nudity
Release Date: August 13, 2010 (USA)
Production Co: Columbia Pictures, Plan B Entertainment, Red Om Films
Sound Mix: SDDS | DTS | Dolby Digital
Eat Pray Love Faith Review by Jana Creighton
Title: Eat, Pray, Love
Directors: Ryan Murphy, known for his television work Glee and Niptuck. TV series by nature have breaks in between the story line. This is obvious in the movie as well as each part of the film is somewhat segmented, almost as if you could only watch a part at a time to discuss.
Original Release Form: Novel by Elizabeth Gilbert 2006. Film in Theaters
Current Availability and formats: Book, Blue Ray DVD, full and widescreen
Genre: Drama and Romance
Plot: Liz Gilbert (Roberts) had everything a modern woman is supposed to dream of having – a husband, a house, a successful career yet she is lost and confused. Liz chooses to divorce her husband, accept the shame and stigma that goes along with this decision and heads out of her comfort zone. She risks everything to change her life, embarking on a journey around the world that becomes a quest for self-discovery. In her travels, she discovers the true pleasure of nourishment by eating in Italy; the power of prayer in India, and, finally and unexpectedly, the inner peace and balance of true love in Bali.
Flow: Slow paced, story is told from Liz’s point of view as if she were eye-witnessing her own life. This pace of the movie serves to slow both the character and us down from the ‘busyness’ of life so that we make and find time to eat, pray and love.
Structure: linear flow of movie, flashbacks of husband and boyfriend as the movie progresses that shows Liz beginning to struggle through her emotions (guilt, joy, feeling lost, etc.) and let go of her past.
Camera: Beautiful wide countryside scenes, alternating with relationship scenes and then scenes of being alone. Camera angles differ during scenes with Liz and her multiple families always incorporating the scenery of the places she calls home. The scenery helps the audience and the character to take notice of the world around instead of focusing on ourselves.
Lighting- in play: lighting was illuminating of characters; Julia is usually hidden in shadows at the beginning. As she smiles and grows, the lighting illuminates her whole face and then her body. As she gains weight and learns to accept herself in her new body she becomes illuminated by the natural light surrounding her entire self (sun).
Music: the music changes appropriately based on the scenery and countryside views. The song that caught my attention the most is Neil Young’s ‘Heart of Gold’ which was played as she began to find herself in Italy with her family. The lyrics to this song repeat the stanza ‘I keep searching for a heart of Gold, I want to live, I want to give, I keep searching for a heart of gold’. Because this is such a prominent song, you could easily develop a class based around what it means to ‘live’, to ‘give’ to ‘search’ and equally to have a heart of gold both in today’s society and Biblically. Are they mutually inclusive or exclusive? Can we do both? The music highlights the country in which she is and also reflects well Liz’s current mood and frustrations or happiness. The outfits she wears have the same effect.
Audience/Cultural Context elements: Intended for middle aged women primarily, those who are seeking more from life than the ‘normal’ expectations of marriage and children.
Theology: Both implicit and explicit
- Eating gelato beside the nuns for instance is example of the way theology is woven in, that theology and reflections of God aren’t simply about the ‘higher’ up brain but its about living life and finding God in all that we do.
- Prayer is woven throughout the film. While Liz is in India, she is instructed to pray to whomever you feel close to. Julia lifts prayers to her newly found friend. It would be interesting to begin a conversation on prayer with this scene in particular.
- The dinner scene in Italy is much like the last Supper. It is literally her last meal with these folks and also the only one in which she is portrayed as ‘taking’ charge of the meal. The ‘family’ alternates praying around the table. This scene would Invite questions such as: What does it mean to be happy? To be fulfilled? To be lucky versus to be blessed? How do we return this to those around us? These are central themes to the movie.
Theological themes for conversation:
- The title Eat, Pray, Love itself lends to a conversation. These are all activities that we do daily, or at least we think we do or strive to do. What does a life of prayer look like? Where and when do we pray? What does a life of eating look like? Why do we eat (the many reasons)? When do we eat? What purpose does eating serve in a our congregations specifically? And what about love? You can even bring in the 5 different love languages book here. What is the quintessential form of love? What kind of love do we usually find ourselves in (examine this by asking in what ways we see love and act love and do love). Do we mostly operate under the concept of self-love? What about love within a community (like Liz in the end)? What does this involve? (forgiveness for instance). Take all three topics and then place them together on the board. How are they connected? They can all be found in one place- the Church community. Explore how we can grow into eating, praying and loving both each other and our Lord.
- ‘guru’ I was looking for all the wrong places for God- guru from India; where and in what ways do we look for love, peace, happiness in all the wrong places? Where do we find God in the end, or where does God find us?
- chanting in sanscript- she was out of place; this paints the picture that community makes the worship experience. How do we experience community as integral to worship?
- Liz breaks the cycle of going from one marriage to the next relationship without exploring herself and her God. This might be used with middle and high schooler’s or a women’s group to discuss the importance of ‘self’ and the beauty that God created the human being and we are each valued.
- I took vows- til death, you quit, how fair is that? Steven (husband) and Liz. The underlying currents and sense of depth of pain related with divorce could easily be wound into a class on marriage or divorce.
- ‘I wanted to pray- it was such a foreign concept that I almost started with ‘I’m a big fan of your work’; What does our prayer look like? What should it look like? How comfortable or uncomfortable are we with prayer? Great conversation for a beginner’s class or a class that struggles with praying out loud for instance
- What does it look like to lose everything? How does the world impose its beliefs into our lives and change us for the better or worse? If you lost everything what path would you choose and why? Do you rely on yourself, God, or others for your happiness?
- Ruin is part of rejuvenation- do you believe this? Why? What does the world shows us in nature about ruin and rejuvenation? What does the Bible show us (example, David)?
- What roles do guilt, happiness, joy play in our lives? What role does God play in our emotions and what we ask for- ‘please give me the answers’; This could be intertwined especially as we approach the Lenten season- guilt? Who has guilt- we all do! What does guilt mean? How do we deal with guilt? Who ultimately takes away our guilt?
- God dwells within you as you (Liz says); what does this mean to Liz? What does this phrase mean to you? Do you agree or disagree? Then she says ‘Not watching you as a performance- but as you’; would God like and agree with who you are and who you feel you are becoming? Why or why not? What does it look like and mean to be living into ‘imago dei’? What does God intend for us?
- To be a happy, balance btw earth and heaven- not too much God, not too much selfish. Be balanced sit in silence and smile- all of you. This could again illustrate the importance of listening to God and keeping a balance in life of the joys God provides. Argues against the right wing/conservative efforts ☺ (not that I would use it this way)! To lose balance for love is part of living balanced life
- ‘You are a good friend to me, like daughter’ the medicine man in Bali says to Liz. What is the importance of family in life? Any kind of family? You could explore all the ways family is dealt with in this movie- writing up on the board the many different ways (from traditional husband to Italian to India individuals to life in Bali) what they each offer to Liz and then discuss how we can learn and grow from her experiences of family in worship and in life today. What roles do family play in our life and what kinds of family do we experience within and outside of the church?
- The introductory scene with the medicine man in Bali has Liz asking: I was supposed to ask about how to pray to God or how to cure world hunger but I wanted to ask about relationships. What is the significance of relationship in this world and our lives? Use this as a jumping off platform to examine our relationships with God and what the Bible has to say about relationships.
Usage of this Film:
- It would be fascinating to have a class read the book prior to a weekend retreat. Watch the film on a Friday night and begin discussion of some of the theological topics above, as well as discussion of the differences of the book and movie
- You could easily use clips within this movie to discuss individual theological points as well.