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Is Eat Pray Love Based On A True Story?

The moviegoers out there who love a good self-journey film have likely seen 2010's "Eat Pray Love," which is directed by a pre-"American Horror Story" Ryan Murphy and co-written by Murphy and Jennifer Salt. The film stars Julia Roberts as Elizabeth Gilbert, a woman who has a seemingly perfect life, including a devoted husband, a successful career. However, Elizabeth is unhappy in her marriage and initiates a divorce. Soon after, she embarks on a trip of self-discovery with the plan of going to three different countries in the course of one year. Each country represents a different topic that Elizabeth would like to focus on and learn about — Italy for food ("eat"), India for spirituality ("pray"), and Indonesia for balance.

Except, in her last stop in Bali, Indonesia, Elizabeth unexpectedly falls in love with a Brazilian businessman named Felipe, played by Javier Bardem. At the end of the film, despite being scared about falling in love again, Elizabeth decides to embark on a relationship with Felipe, cementing "love" as the defining basis of the last part of her journey.

Considering how personal the story feels, many viewers may be wondering if Elizabeth's on-screen journey actually happened in real life. So, is "Eat Pray Love" based on a true story?

Eat Pray Love is based on a true story

The film is based on a memoir of the same name by American journalist Elizabeth Gilbert. Gilbert funded her trip with a $200,000 advance she received from her publisher, set out on her trip, and then recounted the events in the book (via Refinery29). Just like in the film, Gilbert really did fall in love in Indonesia with a man whose real name is José Nunes. So, what happened to the real-life Gilbert after the events of "Eat Pray Love"?

In January of 2010, Gilbert released a follow-up to "Eat Pray Love" titled "Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage." Much to the delight of fans of the relationship Gilbert found in Bali, "Committed" details her life after her self-discovery trip, including her decision to marry Nunes. The book details how their initial plan to not get married is upturned when an issue with Nunes' visa makes it so that the easiest way for him to be let back into the country is for the two of them to get married. They do and Gilbert spends "Committed" exploring her feelings on marriage and examining the institution of marriage itself (via The New York Times).

However, Gilbert and Nunes eventually divorced in 2016 after 12 years together (nine of which they were married). She announced the separation of Facebook, writing, "At this time of transition, I hope you will respect our privacy. "In my heart, I know that you will do so, because I trust that you understand how this is a story that I am living — not a story that I am telling" (via The Hollywood Reporter). Gilbert went on to have other long-term relationships. In 2017, she had a commitment ceremony to her longtime friend Rayya Elias, who was terminally ill at the time and sadly died of cancer in 2018 (via Sydney Morning Herald).