EAT, PRAY, LOVE
NOTE: This spoiler was written and submitted by Nurse Cindyism.
The movie opens with our heroine riding her bike along a grassy roadside in Bali. She reflects on a friend of hers who was called to offer help at a refugee camp; the friend was so uncertain of how she could possibly relate to the tragic background of the people yet quickly discovered the ongoing topic of conversation was Love and broken relationships. The bike rolls to a stop in front of an open structure. The rider/our narrator is Liz Gilbert (Julia Roberts); she introduces herself, as the journalist from New York there to write a piece on The Healer. As Liz is led towards The Healer, fussing with her linen jacket all the way, we hear her think to herself, of all the questions she could ask, rather than how to achieve world harmony, she too wants to ask about her love life.
The Healer is Ketut (Hadi Subiyanto), smiling and welcoming. Reading Liz’s palm, he says she will have two marriages, one long and one short (he cannot answer which one she is in now). He says she will lose all her money but not to worry, she will get it back again; then she will return to Bali to live there for a while and teach him English. He is either over 100 years old or 64, he smiles toothily. As she begins on her way, he stops her with a present. It is an ink drawing; he says if she follows it, she will be grounded for it has four feet and sees with its heart instead of its head.
Cut to New York. Liz is attending a party with her husband Stephen (Billy Crudup). Her good friends Viola and Andy are there with their baby; Stephen holds the child at arm’s length after feeding him nachos. Liz overhears Stephen say he’s thinking about changing his career again; she looks on in surprise. As Liz and her friend go to change the baby’s diaper, the friend shares about a box underneath the bed that she filled with baby clothes while she was waiting for her husband to finally be ready to become a father. Liz delights in the toddler outfits and shares she has a similar box, filled with National Geographics and pictures of places she wants to visit someday. Her friend nods and shares that having a baby is like getting a tattoo on your face you need to make a commitment.
Liz and Stephen are in their car, on their way home. She has told him how she wants him to travel with her on the upcoming assignment. He shares he wants to go back to school. Lying in bed together, Liz cannot fall asleep. She wanders around their quiet house, reflecting on photos and knick-knacks, realizing she worked for all this around her but doesn’t see herself in any of it. She then decides to pray. Not sure how to begin, she kneels and thanks God for all the blessings in her life. With tears streaming down her face, she then asks what she should do. Go back to bed, Liz hears. As she settles back alongside Stephen, he opens his eyes and says he doesn’t want to leave New York. Liz answers, she doesn’t want to be married.
Separated from her husband, Liz is staying with Viola and Andy. Liz loads up on books, including “From Crappy to Happy,” and an Italian-English dictionary, which she begins reading in the bathtub while her friends debate in the hallway outside the bathroom as to whether this is healthy coping. The next day as they walk down the street, Viola urges Liz to admit that while learning Italian is great, Liz is using it as a crutch. They enter a theatre, where a play Liz has written about permeability in relationships is being performed by David Piccolo (James Franco) and a female lead. Within minutes, members of the audience leave and David ad-libs a line about dolphins clapping. Liz smiles. At the after party, they flirt and go back to his apartment. She learns about his Guru. They kiss. We see them walk together in the park, holding hands, joining his friends who share his reverence for the Guru. They do laundry together; and David hands her a tidily folded pile with a bow and “My Queen.” Liz turns to the woman next to her and gleefully says, “He folded my delicates.” The woman shakes her head and comments that Liz is in so much trouble.
The next day, Liz bumps into Stephen in the elevator as they go to attend a meeting with their divorce lawyers. Except, Stephen decides to represent himself, given his one-year in law school. He doesn’t want a divorce, he says. She still does. Liz tells Stephen that she is frustrated with his jumping around and not knowing what he wants; that as with his career, he needs to pick one thing and stick with it. Stephen agrees and says he picks her. Liz shakes her head. When Stephen refuses 1⁄2 of everything they had, including her retirement fund, Liz offers him everything. As Liz’s lawyer assures her it will all turn out all right, she catches a glimpse of Stephen teary-eyed in the elevator on his way out.
Back to her friends’ house, where Liz and David were invited to dinner. Andy comments that Liz sort of looks like David, which is funny because when Liz was with Stephen, she looked like him too. Trying to backtrack, Andy says it’s like how owners look like their dogs.
At David’s apartment, he is angry at being called a dog. Liz tries to explain that Andy was drunk and didn’t mean it in a bad way. With a playful,” Woof,” Liz tries to be affectionate. David turns off the lights with a mumbled, “Don’t you want to give me the chance to miss you?”
Going through her box of National Geographics and dream travel destinations, Liz finds the picture given to her by Ketut. She decides she needs to leave. For a year, she will travel first to Italy, then to India to study with David’s Guru, then onto Bali. Her friends tell her it’s crazy but she’s adamant. As Liz loads up a small storage unit with boxes of her life, she learns that Stephen signed the divorce papers.
Waiting for Viola to pick her up for the airport, Liz and David sit in front of his apartment. He asks her to stay, offering her Indian food all week long. She smiles and gets in the car, urging her friend to drive.
In Italy, Liz rents a scaffolded-home from an older Italian lady who asks if she’s happier divorced than she was married. Taken aback with the bluntness, Liz agrees to the landlady’s one rule (No Strange Men spending the night) and accepts the apartment. On her second week in Italy, Liz is befriended in a bustling café by Sophie (Tuva Novotny), a friendly blonde (Swede?) also new to the region yet familiar enough to quickly order them two cappuccinos and napoleons. Sophie shares that she had the help of a tutor Giovanni (Luca Argentero), who she recommends Liz call.
The three soon become friends and their circle widens to include Luca Spaghetti (who claims that his family invented spaghetti) and more. Liz learns more Italian words and how to communicate with her hands (a funny sequence where the friends use various gestures to show pleasure and distaste). In one scene, they talk about what one word represents each place they live. New York would be Ambition. Rome, Sex. Liz is asked what her word would be she doesn’t know yet.
The next day, Sophie and Liz go to Naples for pizza. Sophie doesn’t want to eat, as she’s grown a “muffintop.” Liz encourages her to be true to herself and promises they will buy bigger jeans for themselves the next day which they do! At the register, Liz admires a negligee. Sophie prompts her to buy it, but Liz declines sadly, noting she has no one to wear it for. Sophie tells her to get it for herself. Liz shakes her head. Later that night, as Sophie and Giovanni head out, Liz sees another negligee in a store window. This one she buys, as she sits down at an indoor picnic she created for herself. She reflects on a new Italian word she learned thanks to Luca, about enjoying the pleasure of the moment. She then thinks about David, flashing back to one of their fights where he says they both should just agree to be unhappy together so as to be happy. Liz emails David about what she learned in Italy and how she cares about him but that it’s wrong to be unhappy together. Liz ends her time in Italy by cooking a traditional Thanksgiving meal for her new friends. Giovanni’s mother is in shock to learn that Liz is divorced and traveling alone; her new friends come to her aid and applaud her courage.
On to India. The pace quickens and Liz arrives at the Guru’s sanctuary exhausted. She is paired to room with a woman who is wearing a badge from the gift shop that notes she is in silence. Liz is surprised to learn that the Guru is not there but actually living in New York. Over and over, Liz tries to meditate yet cannot stop thinking and worrying about getting back to New York. She makes two friends. A young girl who is miserable about her upcoming arranged married and a loud Texan (Hook ‘em!) who nicknames Liz as “Groceries” as she eats so much. The latter is Richard (Richard Jenkins), who directs Liz in different ways that do help her meditate. A call comes in for Liz it is David. He received her email but didn’t reply because didn’t want them to end. He’s starting in a new play. She’s says she’s happy for him. Again, we see tears on Liz’s face.
Richard follows Liz out to a fountain in the sanctuary. He advises her to focus her energy and love for someone other than the Guru to help her concentrate, anyone at all. Liz decides to do so for her young friend who is getting married. Midway through the traditional wedding ceremony, Liz flashes to her own wedding to Stephen. Their first dance wasn’t as planned, but Stephen’s choreography made her laugh. Liz walks away and is joined by the bride. Her wedding present, Liz explained, was all the love that she was channeling for her and the groom. The friend thanks her.
Back at the sanctuary, Richard tells Liz about his own story. Consumed with drugs, alcohol and infidelity, he almost killed his young son while driving home one night. The next day, he woke to find his family gone. It was ten years ago and he’s still looking to forgive himself. With a kiss on Liz’s head, he encourages her to stay until she’s forgiven herself for her divorce. Liz closes her eyes and envisions Stephen. They begin to dance, on the sanctuary rooftop, to the song she thought their first dance would be. She is still dressed in her sari from the friend’s wedding; he is in his tuxedo. She follows Richard’s advice to think of Stephen, send him Love and Light, and then let him go.
As Richard is heading on his way back to Texas, he turns from his taxi to tell Liz to not give up on Love. Liz returns to the sanctuary, where she is asked to forgo her vow of silence (she too bought a badge from the gift shop) so as to greet and serve as hostess to an incoming group of visitors. She gleefully agrees.
Liz returns to Bali. She approaches Ketut as an old friend, yet he cannot remember her. She shows him the picture he presented her. Slowly, he smiles. He remembers, recalling when they first met, she was so sad. Now she is pretty and happy. Liz laughs. In return for his help, she stays to transcribe scrolls for him. Although directed to not take any of the papers from his home, Liz sneaks them away to photocopy and make into a book for Ketut. Riding her bike one day, Liz is almost run off the road by a man driving yet distracted by the music on his radio. This is Felipe (Javier Bardem), a Brazilian who moved to Bali for his work. Liz shows the cuts on her leg to Ketut, who tells her to go see another healer in town. This is a lady healer by the name of Wayan; she lives with her daughter Tutti. Wayan too was divorced and understands Liz feeling like an outcast. Another woman comes to see Wayan, asking for a hair treatment. She wears a thick gold necklace and contemporary clothes; she invites Liz to a party that night. Liz meets Felipe and learns that he also is divorced. Although Liz first begins the evening dancing with another young man, she declines his eager offer to go skinny dipping noting that she already dated him 15 years ago and 6 months ago, so while he’s so very naked and cute, the answer’s no. As Liz stumbles on her way home, Felipe catches up with her. He is carrying the sandals that she forgot behind and offers to drive her home. She is finally convinced when he observes that if he drives, he can’t possibly run over her again.
Felipe drops Liz off at her place and offers to be her tour guide in Bali. She declines and stumbles back to her hut. Felipe comes by later with a local remedy for a hangover. His cell phone rings as she begins to sip the murky drink. He answers “darling” repeatedly, giving directions on how to use the coffeemaker to a young man who turns out to be his son. Liz reconsiders his offer and asks Felipe if coffee is included on the tour. Liz invites him to meet Ketut, who reads in Felipe’s hand that he is still hurting over his divorce. Felipe’s son comes to visit, hits it off with Liz, and encourages his father to be with her, noting the divorce was over ten years ago. That night, Felipe plays one of his mix tapes he’s so proud of and tells Liz that it’s time. They make love.
Liz spends the next few weeks with Felipe exclusively before getting back to work with Ketut and spending time with Wayan. Liz then writes an email to her friends and family, noting that with her birthday coming up, one way to celebrate is to fund the making of a house for Wayan and Tutti. Where they come from, Liz explains, women have no rights in divorce. Thus, Wayan had to sell everything including the bathmat so as to keep Tutti with her and be free of her abusive husband. Tutti found a blue tile on the road near a hotel site and mused that maybe someday they will have a house with pretty blue tiles. Liz translates, “Tutti” actually means “all together or everyone,” so by reaching out, they can indeed help everyone. The friends and family in New York, Italy and Texas all send checks and we see a floor of blue tiles laid out in the structure of a home under construction.
Felipe has a different surprise for Liz’s birthday he’s packed a boat with enough supplies for days. He has planned for them to stay at a nearby island, his favorite place in the world. He knows they have lives in different cities yet proposes they make it work. Liz runs away, saying she doesn’t need to love him to prove she loves herself. Laying her bike against Ketut’s gate a few days later, Liz comes to say goodbye. He asks if she is still smiling with her brain and her liver, as he directed her to do earlier, and she nods. She presents him with the book she made of the photocopied transcripts; Ketut says she is like a daughter to him and invites her to come back when he dies, for his cremation ceremony will be a great party. Liz agrees. Ketut asks what happened with her boyfriend; at learning she broke it off because it wouldn’t balance, Ketut tells her that Love and Life sometimes involves realizing there doesn’t need to be that balance. Liz runs to find Felipe but he is not at home. She leaves him a note to meet her at the dock at sunset.
Felipe arrives at the dock to find Liz has packed the boat. She tells him, she learned her word. It is Attraversiamo, which is Italian for "Let's cross over.” They kiss and sail away into the Balinese sunset.