Il Gelato di San Crispino to the transporting pizza at Naples' Da Michele. So how does the film stack up in the food movie department? Not too bad, if my craving for a flavorful, thin yet doughy pizza after the film was any indication. There's barely any eating in the Indian and Bali sections, of course, where she's too busy praying and shtuping. But the meals in Italy are lovingly photographed, and Julia Roberts learns to capably order a multi-course meal in Italian. The scene where Roberts carefully prepares an antipasto plate of boiled egg and asparagus which she eats alone on her floor is a fine way to show both the pleasures of getting to know yourself and the pleasures of simply-prepared Italian produce. The pizza, pasta and gelato all look extremely tempting, but personally I was lusting after the picture-perfect carciofi alla giudia (Jewish-style fried artichokes), and a plate of figs and prosciutto. Oh yeah, and Javier Bardem.
It's too bad Gilbert is such a self-absorbed navel-gazer, and too bad the 2 hr., 15 minute film has to include nearly every scene in the book, but it's a pleasant travelogue nonetheless with several thoughtful moments. One thing that just didn't ring true for me? Her best friend and others trying to persuade her to stay home and "deal with her life" instead of "running away"? Who in their right mind would think it was a bad idea for a 30something divorced woman with no kids or entanglements (and a book contract, no less?) to go away on an adventure? I'm guessing no one, but they had to add a little conflict to the script.
So if you liked the book, or like a good old self-discovery weepie, go. Just be sure to have your favorite neighborhood pizzeria pre-selected before you go.