FOR a tale all about soul-searching, it is rather ironic that Eat Pray Love lacks, well, soul.
Adapted from the memoir that cultivated such a phenomenal word-of-mouth global following amongst 30-plus women everywhere - heck, even Hillary Clinton heaped her praise - Elizabeth Gilbert's travelogue was tipped to be a ready-made hit with the burgeoning chick-flick demographic.
Disappointingly, like so many book-to-screen transitions, it fails to deliver on that promise.
Where the book devotes page upon page on character-development - helping us to empathise with the disillusioned Gilbert's predicament that leads her on the global odyssey to find herself - the film does little more than document the journey taken, devoid of any of the emotion that fuelled the narrative in the first place.
The luminous thinking woman's actor Julia Roberts plays Liz, a New York professional theatre writer falling out of love with husband Stephen (Billy Crudup) - fast.
She has all the things that define a 'successful' life, but something is amiss, something intangible, prompting a painful divorce and decision to 'find herself' overseas.
And so her trans-continental journey begins: she will feed her stomach in Rome, feed her soul in India and feed her heart in Bali.
The cinematography is sublime, with beguiling visuals of la dolce vita in Italy. The shots of Liz relishing delicate slithers of prosciutto and freshly picked summer figs are just mouth-watering.
Similarly, India - at once chaotic and serene - and the exotic natural landscape of Bali - are delightfully captured, if somewhat sanitised.
Recent years have delivered countless narratives all bound by that romanticised notion of corporate high-fliers disheartened by their cushy 9-5 jobs and seeking something more (the meaning of life mostly, love even) in far-flung, idyllic locales, usually amidst the Mediterranean.
While many succeed in seducing us with their literary allure and nourishing our souls with their inspiring worldly heroines, some, like Eat Pray Love, take us on largely lacklustre and unfulfilling spiritual journeys.
EAT Pray Love (M)
Directed by: Ryan Murphy
Starring: Julia Roberts, James Franco, Javier Bardem
Rating: Two-and-a-half stars
Reviewed by: Emilia Vranjes