Many people think that mainstream Hollywood movies and spirituality don’t mix. Of course, you have the spiritual cinema circle, which is offering inspirational movies produced by independent, spiritual filmmakers, but they rarely make it to the commercial theaters. But you would also do some of the productions that are being released by major studios injustice because there are definitely films which are both entertaining and inspirational.
I love movies and had the pleasure of being closely involved in this industry for 5 years as a film financer. But I am definitely not a professional film critic so when I discuss a movie I use a different point of view: will it offer you a nice evening out and inspiration?
Yesterday night I went to see Eat Pray Love, a film starring Julia Roberts. Although it’s not a “great” movie, the IMDB rating is 4.9, which is pretty bad, I nevertheless enjoyed the movie. I read some of the critics and personally I found them a little whining. Perhaps its because I am biased when it comes to Julia Roberts; I really like her movies and must have seen Pretty Woman at least a dozen times. Perhaps, I also enjoyed the movie because I didn’t read the book (memoir) first, which was written by Elizabeth Gilbert and sold 7 million copies worldwide making Time Magazine name her as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2008.
Story about the search for happiness and love
Basically Eat Pray Love is about a woman who is going on a search for happiness, peace and love after a painful divorce. First she tries to find it in a brief affair with an actor but coming to the realization that fleeing from one relationship to another is not really working, one day she feels that she needs to go out into the world to discover herself and true happiness.
First she travels to Italy, to rediscover her “appetite” for life, which she had lost in the routine of her marriage and work. This part of the movie I liked best and completely resonated with me. You accompany Julia while she is in Rome enjoying Italian life with food, wine, love and dolce va niente (the art and pleasure of doing nothing).
One of the funny scenes is in a barber shop when one of her newly found Italian friends is commenting on the American way of life. Another is a discussion between Julia and her friend about dieting, while enjoying a large pizza in Naples. Anybody who is trying to lose weight to look more beautiful may find inspiration in this scene to shift some of their belief systems.
After a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner with an unexpected twist, Julia leaves her Italian friends to visit an Ashram in India to find spirit. Here she initially has to put up with a stringent routine of prayers and meditation which she finds difficult to comply with; no wonder after having enjoyed the Italian way of living. In the end Julia is able to find her own way of going within to find spirit.
What I liked about this part of the movie is how it contrasts the old and stereotype way of people who are trying to find spirit, i.e. through discipline, with people who allow spirit to come in by relaxing and enjoying themselves. The appearance of the “ghost” elephant, an elephant which had gone wild during a festival and disappeared in the wilderness, is a nice metaphor for experiencing the divine without searching for it.
Need for balance
After freeing herself from the Ashram discipline, Julia travels to Bali to visit a local medicine man. During this visit she becomes aware of the importance and need for balance between the spiritual and the “pleasures of the flesh.” There are some very moving and beautiful scenes in this part of the film, which you should see and experience for yourself.
For those that want to enjoy a light but inspiring menu of spirituality, comedy, romance and nice scenery this movie is definitely one to consider. And be careful, after watching the film you may come to the same conclusion as one of the ladies that sat in front of me: now everybody wants to divorce and go out in the world…