Rating: PG Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Gael Garcia Bernal, Vanessa Redgrave and Christopher Egan. Directed by Gary Winick Written by Jose Rivera and Tim Sullivan Length: 105mins
Letters To Juliet tells the story of Sophie, a wanna be writer who takes a romantic trip to Italy with her somewhat distracted finance. While he seems to be more interested in sourcing ingredients for his New York restaurant than spending time with her, Sophie finds herself captivated by the local tradition of lovelorn women writing letters to Shakespeare’s Juliet and joins the team of women of whose job it is to write back to these unhappy souls.
When Sophie (Seyfried) finds a letter that is 50 years old, written by a young British girl about a Tuscan boy she met and fell in love with, she writes to the girl and soon Claire (Redgrave) and her grandson Charlie (Egan) arrive in Verona with the hopes of finding her long lost love, Lorenzo. The story is simple and extremely predictable but is connected with some truly beautiful shots of the Italian countryside. The warmth of the friendship between Sophie and Claire is really lovely and makes for a very easy romantic watch. Where a realist might suggest that Sophie help Claire check out the possible Lorenzo by using her phone, Letters to Juliet sends the three of them to visit the candidates in person, leading to a series of false leads and at last, of course, to the real Lorenzo Bartolini.
This has a very specific audience, the simplicity and predictability of the plot is clearly for a young romanticist. Hoping that the sweet warmth as everything comes together will distract from problems that would almost certainly exist in reality. I remember watching this as a young teenager and thinking it was one of the best films i’d ever seen, but having re-watched it, it seems it just was a very satisfying entertainment where very little goes wrong. While ‘nice’, it doesn’t have the depth to be considered amongst the best in it’s genre. The characters are broad, comforting stereotypes that are played well – particularly by Amanda Seyfried and Vanessa Redgrave but it almost seems a waste to have talent such as theirs crawling through a particularly cheesy plot.
Letters to Juliet is definitely lacking in substance, but the idea at the core is a story of love lost and reunited. While a bit of a soppy melodrama where the ending is predestined from the setup, it’s a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours, especially for a PG audience.