MALIBU, Calif. — The big-screen adaptation of the beloved best-seller "Eat Pray Love" treats viewers to a visual feast that includes the cafes and countrysides of Italy, the color and chaos of India, and the lush warmth of Indonesia.
Sony showed 21 minutes of footage from the anticipated film earlier this month at a private ocean-view estate and introduced reporters to a range of licensed products timed to its Aug. 13 release.
Producer Dede Gardner introduced the clips, which began with frustrated recent divorcee Liz Gilbert (Julia Roberts) complaining to her colleague (Viola Davis).
"I have no pulse," she says. "I want to go someplace where I can marvel at something."
Next, we see her in Rome, where she navigates a noisy cafe to befriend a fellow ex-pat and learns to abandon her daily calorie count on her "no carb left behind experience."
From there, she's off to India, where we see her drinking in the crowded street scene — bikes, cars, donkeys — with wide, thirsty eyes. She goes to an ashram in hopes of finding peace, but all she can think about is how she'll decorate her meditation room back at home. Then she meets Richard from Texas (a bearded Richard Jenkins) and shares a powerful moment with a painted elephant escaped from a nearby carnival.
Finally, she arrives in Bali, where she's happily bicycling along until a distracted driver accidentally runs her off the road. The handsome stranger (Javier Bardem) offers to take her to a doctor and becomes her de-facto tour guide, charming her with his knowledge of local customs and delicacies. (He shows her a fruit she has never seen, purring that it tastes "like an orange made love to a plum.")
Beautifully photographed, the scenery invites fans of the book deep into the exotic locales Gilbert visited.
Gardner said the film's cast and crew followed the author's path in order during the four-and-a-half month shoot and experienced a bit of their own personal growth along the way.
"I think this story is a hard one to duck. In some way, it's going to stick with you," she said. "Even if it's just as simple as reminding you to get outside your comfort zone ... It permeated a lot of people."
"Eat Pray Love" was co-written and directed by Ryan Murphy, creator of TV's "Glee."
Gardner said a new trailer for the film will play ahead of "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse," which opens Wednesday.