August 13, 2010 at 1:00 am

Adam Graham Film Review: 'Eat Pray Love' -- GRADE: C

Review: 'Eat Pray Love' is a lavish tale

Julia Roberts stars in "Eat Pray Love." (Columbia Pictures)

An insane fantasy for rich people, "Eat Pray Love" suggests a midlife crisis is nothing a lavish, year-long trip around the world can't fix.

Feeling disconnected at work? Stuck in a doomed relationship? Have an endless supply of money and absolutely nothing grounding you to the mundane realities of day-to-day life? Then a journey of self-discovery, replete with interesting characters, sumptuous food and breathtaking scenery awaits you.

Everyone else might have to settle for a trip to the self-help aisle, or simply live vicariously through "Eat Pray Love."

Based on Elizabeth Gilbert's memoir, "Eat Pray Love" stars Julia Roberts as Gilbert, who early in the film decides her marriage to Stephen (Billy Crudup) is not what she wants in life. She splits and quickly falls into a relationship with a struggling stage actor (James Franco), but when the same patterns as her marriage start to emerge, she decides to uproot herself and trot around the globe. Her adventure teaches her several important lessons: Italian food is really, really good; spirituality is a tough egg to crack; and Bali is a wonderful place to meet another wounded soul.

Make no mistake, "Eat Pray Love" is well lit and wonderfully shot, and Roberts is the perfect choice to play Gilbert. At 42, she's as radiant as ever. She makes the movie click, and temporarily lets you forget how unfettered by reality the movie's premise is.

Co-writer and director Ryan Murphy -- he created TV's "Nip/Tuck" and "Glee" -- gives everything a warm travelogue feel, and shoots the film's glorious food with the same care he shoots his lead actress. He also uses music as an effective storytelling tool; the jarring transition from Neil Young's "Heart of Gold" to M.I.A.'s "Boyz" is used to juxtapose the tranquility of Rome with the chaos of India.

Yet the movie builds to a conclusion that betrays its own premise, saying the end result of all that eating, praying and loving is (spoiler alert!) just another man. "Eat Pray Love" positions itself as a different kind of chick flick, but ultimately it's just another Hollywood fairy tale.

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