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Bali besieged by the lovelorn

Some movies cross the gender divide but Eat Pray Love doesn't look set to be one of them -- when the Julia Roberts' vehicle opened in the States last month, its distributor, Sony Pictures, reported that 72pc of the audience was female, and 56pc was aged 35 years and older.

The Hollywood Insider reported that the hype surrounding the movie - the story of a divorced woman's quest for peace following a traumatic break-up, based on Elizabeth Gilbert's bestselling book - is justified. The film opened at second place at the box office, behind Sylvester Stallone's The Expendables.

It's a safe assumption that when it opens here on September 22, women will be flocking to see this autobiographical tale, which took Gilbert to Italy to 'Eat,' to India to 'Pray,' and to Indonesia where she fell in 'Love' again.

Yet, are Dublin women prepared for the Eat Pray Love phenomenon? The success of the book and movie is resulting in women worldwide following in Gilbert's footsteps, and travelling abroad in a bid to heal a broken heart, and find love.

The story, which also stars Javier Bardem (Penelope Cruz's new hubby) grossed €24m on its opening weekend Statseside, making it Julia Roberts' highest opening as a leading lady since 2001's America's Sweethearts.

Although Bali, where Gilbert travelled to stay in a cultural centre in a quest to regain her inner peace after a divorce, has survived earthquakes, volcanoes, and terrorist bombings, the Indonesian 'Island of the Gods' is having a hard time surviving the success of Eat Pray Love.

Scores of middle-aged and heartbroken women are travelling to Ubud in Bali where the author found her new partner. They're obviously hoping for a repeat of some of the magic.

In Eat Pray Love, Gilbert (who is played by Roberts) spends the first third of the movie indulging in Rome's dolce vita, then takes an austere, soul-searching turn at an ashram in India, before winding up in Ubud, the art centre of Bali.

Some travel agents in the States are offering all-in-one packages for fans of the book who want to follow in her footsteps with as little hassle as possible. The book, released in 2006, spent 57 weeks on the New York Times' bestseller list, and went on to sell seven million copies worldwide.

For some women at least, it seems a case of eat, pray, and fall in love with this movie.

>ANNA COOGAN


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