Yes I do know that the film is now OLD news but I only got to see it this week as it opened at my local cinema in the Blue Mountains.  I was quite excited about seeing it as I did love the book and was ready for a little voyeurism and a chance to catch up with one of my good friends. Would it be as good as the book?  Well…….

Before I go into too much detail I would say that I was not EXPECTING the film to be as good as the book,  I have been disappointed before and didn’t want to fall into that trap and so decided to see this as a ‘companion’ to the book, as a little something extra rather than a recital.  That mentality did indeed serve me well and I spent the next 2 ish hours in a happy and pretty entertained place. 

Julia Roberts was a good choice for the lead role as her stature plus ability to look very ‘girl next door who could blossom at any moment if only she knew how to unleash her inner goddess’  helped her pull off the troubled and lost woman persona that Elizabeth inhabited at that time in her life.  However, nailing the lead character didn’t lead to a nailing of the film in my humble opinion.   I expected that it would be difficult for the film to portray the mind journey that accompanied Liz’s  physical wanderings but was rather disappointed to find it so skimmed over.  The reason for wanting a divorce was portrayed as a simple ‘It’s not you it’s me, I changed my mind and no longer want a big house and all of this’ rather than delving into the feelings that many women (and men) are confronted with – mortgage stress, family pressures, sickness, fertility, career, dreams, love.   In the book Elizabeth works over and over her relationship with her ticking body clock as she wrestles with her life’s meaning in relation to her preferred choice of remaining childless.  I suspect that the film makers thought that making a film about a woman who found that life could have meaning without the need to reproduce was a little too unpalatable – rather like making a film about suicide, make it sound too good and everyone will try it……

The consequence of this lack of depth lead to Liz coming across as a spoilt little rich girl who you didn’t really feel sorry for ( she packed everything up, travelled the world while getting paid and found a lovely second husband to boot) which, if you have read the book is the opposite of how I felt towards her.

Anyway, that said I did enjoy the film for what it ended up being (as I said, I tried to shelve my own expectations).  It was a pleasant jaunt through beautiful countryside eating lovely food and picking up a few little wise words along the way.  I loved the bit in Italy where they are discussing ‘il  dolce far niente (the sweetness of doing nothing) which I must say is something that I need to practice more often.  For me this was the most poignant part of the film as I think many of us women (and men 🙂 ) strive to fill every waking second with activities, deadlines, goals and ‘to-do’ lists oh, and we then squeeze even more time into our days by cutting out some of our sleepy time, ever worried that we will miss out on something if we don’t keep going.   Just seeing that it is possible and even beautiful to stop and smell the roses made for quite a delicious moment.

Anyway, other than that and the nice scenery and wardrobe sported by Julia Roberts outside of India and Bali the film was nothing more than a TV movie.  Nice, comfortable, a little bit funny and fairly un-challenging.   If you haven’t read the book yet and are wondering if to see the film to save yourself time I would say don’t.   Work through Liz’s journey page by page as you sit back and enjoy a little ‘me’ time. Italy will love you for it!

PS: If you find yourself a little fascinated by the Italian language you may just like this blog – becoming Italian word by word. It’s fab!