Sunday, August 15, 2010

eat pray love barf

Julia Roberts, looking placid
in an Ashram in India

Rachel, my daughter, had seen the book when we were shopping at Goodwill one day about 6 months ago. She had picked it up and considered buying it, saying that it was popular amongst some of the young women she knows. She ended up putting it back on the shelf, saying she didn't have time to read anything except her books for her college courses.

The previews of eat love pray captured my attention. The main character was a woman who seemed on the verge of an epiphany, one Gloria Steinham put succinctly decades ago: "A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle". I made a mental note to watch for the release of the movie.

In the past month, my amazing and beautiful daughter had endured yet another heartache over a man she'd been involved with. I showed her the trailer for eat love pray, and we both giggled over the line, "I've either been in a relationship or breaking up since I was 15." So true of Rachel. I thought seeing the movie would give Rachel another perspective about life and relationships.

So, the release date of Friday the 13th of August arrived, and Rachel and I circled the Roseway Theater here in NE Portland, looking for a parking space a few minutes before the 2nd showing of elp. There were about 10 women lined up for admission. We got our parking space, bought the tickets, and settled in to a theater 1/2 filled with women.

Long story short: Self-absorbed, privileged woman who holds her partners to a higher level than she does herself paints herself as some kind of victim and goes globe-trotting to culturally appropriate other peoples' spirituality to assuage her pain.

First, she goes to Italy, where she grows to an immense size 4 from her liberal ingestion of comfort carbs. Next, she's off to an Ashram in India to meet the guru of her past lover. (Ironically, the guru is in New York, from where the main character hails. Coulda saved a trip.)
The essence of the movie, for me, is when the main character is in a cab in India, and she is exposed to the abject poverty of the people there. The audience is left uncertain of her feelings upon seeing these sights. It was a stark representation of the insulation money and americaness provided to this woman.

The scenery was luscious as she went from India to Bali. Here she works with a medicine man whom she had met a year earlier. She also meets up with Javier Bardem, the fantastically bad baddy of No Country for Old Men (which I liked exponentially better than eat love pray). At last, it seems, our heroine has bought sufficient enlightenment to enter into a healthy, loving, mutually satisfying relationship. But wait! A critical moment arrives when Bardem's character professes his love for the leading lady. He wants to take her on a boat trip to a nearby island for a few days. She gets weirdly panicky and there is a standoff between the two forces. I was tempted to jump up and yell, "CALL IT, FRIEND-O!"
Javier Bardem

In the end, after a whopping 140 minutes, the heroine's enlightenment earned her the love of a hunky guy. It's a Cinderella story. Pretty typical mainstream cultural hollywood bullshit.

Anyway, Rachel and I shared a few good laughs about the movie over a bottle of wine after we got home. I know she'll be fine without flying to Bali to get enlightened.


Dade said...

After reading your review, I'm glad I followed my instincts and didn't go to this flick.

And, hey, I'm as straight as they come, but that Javier Bardem has got something going on...

Ridwan said...

My dear sista I must confess that I was thinking your blog was no more.

I was delighted to see I was wrong!

A couple of friends and I were sitting in a Seattle's Coffee in Pretoria (yep they here too) when my friend Pat remarked that she had just finished reading the book and it was "amazing".

Her remark came just days after a return from India and was brought on by a younger sista reading the same book at the table opposite to us.

"That is a wonderful book," she said to the sista. "I know I know and I am going to buy it," (the coffee shop is inside a bookstore).

She ended buying the book and on our way out my friend D. remarked that he knew a little about the book and it was "crap".

Pat was long gone by then.

I made a mental note for some reason and just days after I came across this Dissident Voice post:

It is scathing no doubt and I forwarded it to Pat. She was not happy.

"Why do folks read into stuff so much that is not there," she complained.

I backed off. Felt like I had intruded into an area where boys like me do no belong.

Then I read your post and I re-emerged.

Thank you for writing this post!

I hate appropriating and I'm tired of journeys through the "Indian and African" terrain.

It is almost as if we do not exist unless some overfed westerner says so.

Ok, its early morning and I need to run to work.

Peace to you and Rachel.


"Shusli" Baseler said...

Thanks for offering that vignette, Ridwan. I can't believe this book is popular worldwide. And I will read that link you've cited.

To be fair, I forgot to mention that the author did collect enough money for a woman on Bali to get a house, and that was a wonderful thing.

Take care, Brother.