Latest Tablet magazine column’s up — about why I sat on a stoop in the rain (reading the forthcoming A Tale Dark and Grimm, by Adam Gidwitz, about which I will definitely rave at some point in the future) rather than seeing Eat Pray Love. I’m a little sad that the comments in Tablet are so venomous (I know, what else is new) — I liked the first third of the book so much, and I’d hoped we could talk about that. I did get email from people with different takes on the scene in the book that bothered me so, but no one has posted alternate interpretations in the comments.
I also have thoughts about Julia Roberts in the movie. She’s exactly my contemporary (which means she’s a lot older than Elizabeth Gilbert was in the book). I feel as if we’ve grown up together. I loved her in Mystic Pizza and Pretty Woman — both times she transcended the movie going on around her. It wasn’t her acting; it was her MOVIESTARNESS. She had it even then. That gazillion-watt smile that came out of nowhere (her face went from stillness to BEAMING in .03035722 seconds) and her aching vulnerability. She felt as sisterly then as Liz Gilbert did in the “Eat” section of Eat Pray Love. She still had baby fat in those days, and those luminous don’t-hurt-me Bambi eyes.
But as she got older she got more movie-star-y offscreen — she was intolerable in interviews and on awards shows (“I love my life!” she crowed before reading her costar Denzel’s name after pulling it out of the envelope, making the moment All About Her) and taunting her poor (married) boyfriend’s wife by wearing a mean t-shirt about her, giving off aloof movie-star vibes instead of the accessibility and relatability that she’d had on-screen. She got thinner, her cheekbones looked increasingly sharp, her hair got less and less playful. (I liked the uncontrolled crazy curly reddish look. I also realize we all grow older.) She took a bunch of roles (Erin Brockovich being the notable exception) that either seemed like disposable, cynically produced rom-coms or arty important films in which she barely smiled. She seemed invested only in the latter. I’m curious about which Julia appears in this movie — the sisterly, twinkling, beaming friend Julia or the sleek, self-conscious, stiff Julia. It would be fun not to feel distance from her in a current movie.
I also would love to know how Bali looks in the movie — Jonathan and I honeymooned there (we were supposed to go elsewhere in Indonesia, but the government fell while we were traveling and the US Gov’t issued a warning to Americans to get the hell out of the country, and there was violence on other islands, so we stayed put, but it was a pretty incredible place to get stuck) and it’s as magical a place as I can imagine. If you’ve seen the movie, lemme know!
In other movie news, we saw Despicable Me. I do not comprehend the bad reviews. LOVED. Steve Carrell’s shifting Russian-Eastern-European accent alone is worth the price of admission.