Monday, March 12, 2012

Memoirs to Movies: The Eat, Pray, Love Effect

Hi Meltingpot Readers,

Happy Monday. I know I'm only a year late on this one, but you all know that I watch movies when the DVD makes it to my local library. So, when I saw Eat, Pray, Love in the New Additions box last week, I snatched it up.

So, here's the deal. I had no real interest in seeing Eat, Pray, Love in the theater because, while I enjoyed the book immensely, I didn't see it translating to the big screen in any sort of powerful way. Plus the reviews were brutal. I mean, the story is all pretty much internal, so how do you show that? I plucked it up from the library because I wanted to see the gorgeous locals mentioned in the book.

As I suspected, that actual plot of the movie, pretty much follows the "plot" of the book. That is to say, a deeply unhappy woman who has made several mistakes in her personal life, decides to live in Italy, India and Bali to try to find "balance." Like I said, as a book, where we can read the internal dialogue of the author, Elizabeth Gilbert, the story is both inspiring and enlightening. As a movie, can you say snore? I could have put the movie on mute and just oogled the beautiful scenery. And, yes I count Javier Bardem as part of the beautiful scenery!

I loved the addition of Viola Davis as Gilbert's sister-in-law. Way to go color-blind casting! But of course, without altering the story tremendously, they couldn't have her in the film too much. I thought it was a mistake to ignore the fact that Gilbert was traveling in order to write a book. It made it seem that Gilbert just had oodles of money and free time to follow her bliss, which wasn't the point. That was a distraction for me.

I think a better idea for turning this book into a movie would have been a documentary travel special, visiting the locations in the book. Then we could have more insight and information about the ashram in India, the restaurants in Rome and the temples and beaches in Bali. My take away from the film as it was, was, 'when can I book a trip to Bali?' It looked so beautiful and peaceful.

So, dear readers, I was left with the depressing conclusion that memoirs make boring movies. Why is this depressing? Because the film rights to my memoir, Kinky Gazpacho, have been optioned and it looks like the film will soon be in the works. I was excited, but now I'm a little worried about the Eat, Pray, Love effect.

Can you put my mind at ease? Can you think of any memoirs turned movie that you really enjoyed? Please share. I'm totally listening.



Anonymous said...

Oh LT, LT, LT! Rarely do I disagree with you but oy vey was that one of the worst books I've ever read. I just couldn't get past the preachy voice of Elizabeth Gilbert (although people who like her seem to also like her TED talk, have you seen it?). Ugh what is heroic about leaving your perfectly reasonable life and getting someone to pay for a year's vacation around the world or whatever? SO BRAVE EATING ALL THE PIZZA. And I found her attitude towards other cultures condescending at best and offensive at worst. I didn't see the movie because I could barely slog through the book, but there are other movie/memoirs that I have liked. I'll list them.

-A Mighty Heart (based on A Mighty Heart: The Brave Life and Death of My Husband, Danny Pearl by Mariane Pearl)

-The Pianist (From the memoir of the same name with a longer subtitle) by Wladyslaw Szpilman<--I might have spelled this wrong.

-The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (memoir of the same name by Jean-Dominque Bauby).

-Motorcycle Diaries (From the book of the same name by (ernesto) Che Guevara)

Sorry about my Gilbert outrage, that woman makes me batty. SO MUCH ENTITLEMENT and CREATION OF PROBLEMS WHERE THERE AREN'T ANY. But, and I mean this with all sincerity, I'm glad you enjoyed the book!



The Golden Papaya said...

Hey, congratulations! Just having the book optioned is a huge accomplishment.
The poet Nick Flynn's great memoir Another Bullshit Night in Suck City was just made into a movie that I haven't seen yet, but that's supposed to be really good.
There's hope.
Can't wait to see Kinky Gazpacho on the big screen!

PatriciaW said...

Congrats on the memoir-to-film. I'll have to read Kinky Gazpacho.

Unlike you, I completely did not enjoy Eat, Pray, Love, the book. Couldn't finish it. But I did enjoy the movie. There was a bit of a lull midway but viewing it as a story about a woman on a journey to find herself, not so much so that she could write a book, it was pleasant.

Worldly Girl said...

I think the book allowed a lot of women in relationships similar to hers to fantasize about doing the same thing. Hollywood is all about fantasy. I'm no memoir expert, but I loved the book- I actually found it empowering. But I think that Under the Tuscan Sun (also empowering) is by far a better movie than Eat, Pray, Love.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry but the better question is who do you see in the role of yourself and y tu esposo?

I just discovered Mayra Santos Febres. Have a peek! she has a blog as well that could help you with your Spanish.

Maxwell Dumaurier said...

Congratualtions on "KINKY GAZPACHO". I'm looking forward to seeing who they will cast as you.

lifelearner said...

I enjoyed Condelezza Rice's memoir An Extraordinary Family, as well as Finding Fish-Antwone Fisher story.

Ola said...

I enjoyed the book (EPL) simply for the fact that she was unhappy and she did something about it. I may not agree with how she initially went about dealing with her unhappiness but she eventually found a less destructive way in dealing. Yea, it was messy but she did something about it. I did find it hard to get through the first “stage” of the book. And I do remember yelling at the book, “are you seriously complaining about eating pizza right now!?!?!?”

Like LT I did not watch the movie in theatres(for some of the same reasons she mentioned) and only recently watched it on DVD, I had to watch all the special features to like it (this is something I do when I’m not happy with the finished product, that’s kind of a lie, I’m a sucker for good special features….hehe, in this case I liked the special features more than the movie). Javier and all the beautiful scenery was the saving grace throughout the film for me. I knew he would eventually appear on screen so I stuck through it. Plus the soundtrack was good too...:). After the special features I went back and watched the Javier scenes LOL!

Congratulations on Kinky Gazpacho!!! Funny enough, as I was reading your book I was envisioning a movie ^_^ w/ Gael Garcia Bernal as el esposo....just saying. I’m doing a happy dance to celebrate your news!!!!
I guess I should start taking acting classes so I can audition……..LOL ^_^

As for memoirs to movie, I thought “Pursuit of Happyness” was a good movie even though I did not read the book……

LT, I’m grateful to you for sharing your story with Kinky Gazpacho. I can’t tell you THANK YOU enough!

LT said...

Thanks for these memoir turned movie. You've completely changed my mind!

Papaya Girl,
Thank you :)

Point well taken. And I hope you enjoy KG.

Worldly Girl,
Good point.

Thanks. I'm kind of wondering who will play me too. Any suggestions?

I liked the Finding Fish memoir and movie too

I loved The Pursuit of Happyness! And I love Gael too!

KayB said...

This is SUCH exciting news! I can't wait to see it come to the screen. I'm already casting in my mind :)