Go Pay Suffer, at least if you’re a guy. I was expecting this Julia Roberts vehicle to be one of the worst movies of the year and it’s not even that good. For basically no reason at all Liz Gilbert (Roberts), the name of the woman who wrote the autobiographical book upon which this movie is based, decides she doesn’t want to be married to her husband, Stephen (Billy Crudup), so she dumps him and then spends the rest of the movie feeling sorry for herself because she’s not in love.
This movie about a just-divorced woman has already been made once before by another feminist, Audrey Wells, called Under the Tuscan Sun (2003), and it was almost as bad as this thing, if possible. Although in Wells’ movie, the woman was the one who was jilted. What makes this worse is that Liz dumps her husband for no apparent reason other than she just doesn’t want to be married anymore, which she decides after he interrupts her talking about herself so he can talk about himself. Sounds like two Chardonnays (aka yuppies) who deserve each other. So much for the ability of the modern feminist to commit to a relationship “for better or worse,” and trying to work it out if it happens to be “worse.”
Knowing it was going to be almost 2 1/2 hours of Julia Roberts, I thought, going in, that one possible saving grace might be great scenery, since the film is set in Italy and India. Alas, director Ryan Murphy, who also wrote (with Jennifer Salt), eschews scenic views (like those that enlivened Letters to Juliet) for close-up after close-up of Julia acting. You can almost hear the guy in plus-fours standing just outside camera range telling Julia through his megaphone, “look sad,” and “laugh,” and the other emotions that Julia fakes throughout this almost interminable debacle.
There are two noteworthy performances in this film, counterbalancing Roberts. The first is by Richard Jenkins as an old guy Liz meets in India. The other is by Javier Bardem as Felipe, the guy who finally wins Liz’s heart, poor guy. One thing I knew coming out of the screening, Felipe is not going to live happily ever after.