Well, when you love a book, it is rare that you like the movie better, and so it is the case here. Liking the original book, and liking Julia Roberts, wasn’t enough to make this a great movie; I’m only going to give it four (three?) stars, even though I truly wanted it to warrant more.
With a movie, it is hard to go beyond plot, and when the plot is driven by subtle learning and spiritual experience, this is harder to depict visually than with words, which are difficult too. The book had many wonderful piths that are totally missed in the movie, both of wisdom and insight, and by comparison, the movie is empty without them. I’m not sure how they could have done it differently to make it better, but I would have definitely included the profound scene in “the meditation cave” that was in the book but completely passed over in the film.
My husband, who had not read the book, liked this movie better than I did, and was oblivious to what he was missing. But when asked, he said he’d rank it at four stars as well. Anyway, a careful read of Elizabeth Gilbert’s book is recommended, but if you see the movie, try to keep your expectations lower than mine were going in.