I will not leave this poor woman alone

Posted by Lizzie on 09/03/10

The movie of Eat, Pray, Love commences with the kind of moment that, depending on your outlook, leads you to find memoirist Elizabeth Gilbert either deeply appalling or appealing. In a chatty voice-over, Julia Roberts tells us the story of her psychologist friend, Deborah, who’s daunted when asked to counsel a bunch of recently deposited Cambodian boat people.The boat people, Julia tells us, have suffered “the worst of what humans can inflict on each other—genocide, rape, torture, starvation, the murder of their relatives before their eyes.” How can a privileged American—a mere Philadelphia shrink—possibly relate to their suffering?

But luckily for Deborah, boat people have no interest in discussing their years in refugee camps or having to feed expired fellow travelers to the sharks. Instead, their worries comprise a sort of deposed-dictator, PTSD season of The Bachelorette: “I met this guy when I was living in the refugee camp, and we fell in love. I thought he really loved me, but then we were separated on different boats, and he took up with my cousin. Now he’s married to her…”At this punchline, the audience at my screening chuckled at the oh-too-truthiness of it all. It’s not surprising Hollywood chose to launch the movie thus. It is a moment pure Gilbertian, exactly the kind of psychic pass those troubled by uniquely unspeakable acts require. Sure, life is filled with nasty inconveniences like rape and having to pitch a corpse or two overboard when you least expect it! But never fear. At the end of the day, all we all really care about is if that guy is going to call.

see the rest at The Millions : Zen and the Art of Image Maintenance.

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Commentary

  1. Wild horses could not drag me to see that movie. I have over the past numbe rof years developed a strong dislike of Julia Roberts which I cannot really explain why. Guess I’m just weird.

    Comment by SUSAN — 9/3/2010 @ 6:23 pm

  2. Amen to that… I felt the same way. The privileged vantage point of those in plight is kind of tedious. Gilbert has a way of romanticizing life’s difficulties, which I think is what makes her palatable. But, it’s also straining to see that perspective when things are so much harder for other people.

    Comment by Jessica — 9/17/2010 @ 12:06 pm

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