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Letters to Juliet

A movie released May 14, 2010

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The Year's First Feel-Good Romance

  • Jun 10, 2010
It's amazing how movies work on people. "Letters to Juliet" is a contrived, mushy, predictable story of love and romance, and yet it thoroughly won me over. This is strange given the fact that I'm usually so critical of romances, especially if they're trying to be funny. But unlike the desperate comedy of films like "My Life in Ruins," "27 Dresses," and the newly released "The Back-Up Plan," this movie keeps its humor low key, reserving it for only such moments that it's actually needed. On the same token, it doesn't go for the needlessly weepy melodrama of movies like "Dear John" and "The Last Song," both based Nicholas Sparks tearjerkers; it's all rather sweet and charming and fun, a nice way to spend 101 minutes away from the house, especially if you're with a date.

The story begins in New York City, where Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), a young fact checker for "The New Yorker," dreams of becoming a featured writer. She's engaged to a developing chef named Victor (Gael Garcia Bernal), who seems pleasant enough but is really more interested in micromanaging the opening of a new restaurant than in spending time with his bride to be. They travel to Verona on what was supposed to be a pre-honeymoon but, for Victor, ended up becoming a scouting mission for the best wines, olive oils, and truffles. The pre-honeymoon idea is enough of a red flag, I think. Honestly, who actually goes on something called a "pre-honeymoon"?

For Sophie, it becomes the perfect opportunity to write a story for her magazine. One day, she happens upon the house where Juliet Capulet is said to have lived and watches as emotional women from all over the world post relationship letters to a stone wall. She then becomes involved with a group of women who collect the letters and respond to them one by one. They call themselves Juliet's Secretaries, which, if you ask me, is actually a cute name. Entirely by accident, Sophie discovers a letter from 1957, written by a love-struck but frightened girl named Claire who left her beloved behind and returned home to England. Sophie is touched and decides to write back, apparently confident that, after a period of over fifty years, Claire still lives at the same address.

As it turns out, this is the case. A few days later, Sophie is approached by Claire's grandson, Charlie (Christopher Egan), a cold and bitter young man who disapproves of what Sophie has done. Because of her reply, his grandmother has returned to Verona and is on a quest to find her lost love - an utterly foolish idea if there ever was one. Undaunted, Sophie follows Charlie and meets Claire (Vanessa Redgrave), quite a bit older now but no less in the throes of romance. Kindly and gracious, she immediately takes a liking to Sophie and, despite Charlie's objections, lets her tag along on a cross-country search for her old flame, whose name is Lorenzo Barotlini. Sophie knows that Victor won't mind her going; he's too involved in food hunts and wine auctions to take notice.

If you know anything about movie romances, then chances are you have a pretty good idea of where this is going, so I don't need to describe any more of the plot. Suffice it to say, this is a wholly delightful story with appealing characters, and it's all set against the backdrop of picturesque Italian landscapes. It was an experience that, however hokey, I was glad to be a part of. I have to treasure feelings like that because, quite frankly, I don't often have them; I'm usually pointing out all the ways in which the audience is coerced, if not shamelessly manipulated, into emotional submission. But even I have a sentimental side, and I'm glad there are movie like this that allow me to indulge in it.

I was moved, for instance, by the rekindled love between Claire and Lorenzo (Franco Nero), which mirrors the real life relationship between the actors who played them. Back in 1967, Redgrave and Nero met on the set of "Camelot" and became romantically involved. They finally married in 2006. Considering the film's theme of officially claiming a love that had always been, can you honestly say this doesn't warm your heart just a little? Watching them together onscreen, you truly do believe that they're in love, which is more than I can say for most modern romance stories between young people who in all likelihood wouldn't know love if it came up and bit them.

"Letters to Juliet" is by no means groundbreaking cinema, but boy, is it charming. I liked the story, rote though it may be. I cared about the characters, young and old. I appreciated the fact that, in spite of his standoffish take on Victor, Bernal didn't play him as a crude, unlovable caricature. Most of all, I enjoyed the chemistry between Seyfried, Egan, Redgrave, and Nero. I can imagine a movie like this being used in the field of neuroscience, specifically in how it affects dopamine and endorphin levels, both thought to play a part in how much pleasure a person feels. I suspect most participants would show an increase. No matter how silly they may seem, some movies just make you feel good inside.

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More Letters to Juliet reviews
review by . September 19, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Come dite,
Aspiring writer Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) and her fiancé go to Verona for a pre-honeymoon/business trip. He's obsessed with work and leaves poor Sophie to sightsee alone. She visits Juliet's famous house, where for generations lovelorn women have left letters asking for advice in Juliet's brick wall. The locals who answer the letters on Juliet's behalf invite Sophie to join them and her response to a 50-year old letter will change several lives forever.      …
review by . July 10, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Sweet, simple and silly. If that's what you are looking for, then you should like Letters to Juliet. A couple of girlfriends and I enjoyed an afternoon in a cool theater on a hot day. The Italian countryside washed over us and that alone was worth the price of admission. Gorgeous scenery. The story is sweet as well. Romantics will love the lost letter and the search for love fifty years after it is written, and the adventures on the way. Skeptics may struggle with the moments of lightness and …
Quick Tip by . December 02, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
A RomCom that's definitely predictable but, manages to weave in interesting characters, an interesting story (I love the idea of people writing letters to Juliet and a group of women answering them), and gorgeous scenery. Overall, a perfect flick to add to your Netflix.
review by . September 22, 2010
Sweet romantic comedy.  Beautiful scenery and charming characters.  A young woman heads to Italy with her fiance.  A chance encounter with a group of Italian "Dear Abbys" leads her on an adventure of a lifetime. It was predictable, but that was okay... it's a feel-good fun time.
review by . May 14, 2010
Gary Winick's 2010 film "Letters to Juliet" contains all the right ingredients to make a fabulously lighthearted romantic comedy that should teach every lover's torch to burn bright. However, the overall combination of beautiful young stars, older, dignified stage and film veterans, captivating scenery and Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers does nothing synergistically other than create a rather bland just-under two hour fare.     The problem has nothing to do with the storyline; …
Quick Tip by . July 15, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
The best Romantic movie I have seen in a while. Two thumbs way up.
review by . July 10, 2010
Sweet, simple and silly. If that's what you are looking for, then you should like Letters to Juliet. A couple of girlfriends and I enjoyed an afternoon in a cool theater on a hot day. The Italian countryside washed over us and that alone was worth the price of admission. Gorgeous scenery. The story is sweet as well. Romantics will love the lost letter and the search for love fifty years after it is written, and the adventures on the way. Skeptics may struggle with the moments of lightness and silliness …
Quick Tip by . June 17, 2010
Very cute movie and well written! You think you can predict what happens, but something keeps happening and you doubt yourself. A must see for chick-flick movie lovers (bring tissues though its a a romantic way).
About the reviewer
Chris Pandolfi ()
Ranked #2
Growing up a shy kid in a quiet suburb of Los Angeles, Chris Pandolfi knows all about the imagination. Pretend games were always the most fun for him, especially on the school playground; he and his … more
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About this movie


An American girl discovers a love letter that changes her life in this romantic comedy starring Amanda Seyfried and Vanessa Redgrave. The setting is Verona, Italy -- the city where Romeo and Juliet first met. In Verona, there's a wall where the lovelorn leave notes, hoping that Juliet will answer their inquiries about love. Sophie (Seyfried) is part of a team of volunteers who respond to the letters. When Sophie answers a letter from 1957, the woman who wrote it (Redgrave) decides to seek out the one that got away, and romance starts to blossom all around. ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide

Poster art for "Letters to Juliet."

ophie Hall (Amanda Seyfried) is a fact checker at The New Yorker magazine who dreams of becoming a writer, but her boss, Bobby, does not share her wishes. Sophie’s fiance, Victor (Gael Garcia Bernal), is about to open an Italian restaurant in downtown New York. To celebrate, the two go on a “pre-honeymoon” to VeronaItaly. Sadly for Sophie, Victor seems too preoccupied in finding the best wines and cheeses for his restaurant and hardly has time for her. While he is out one day, Sophie goes sightseeing and comes across the house where Juliet Capulet supposedly lived and watches in awe as numerous people gather to write letters to Juliet about their loves and post them on Juliet’s wall. Sophie writes of this in her journal for a few hours and sits on a bench, waiting for closing time, to see what becomes of the ...

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Genre: Romance
Release Date: May 14, 2010
MPAA Rating: PG
Runtime: 1hr 45min
Polls with this movie
27 Dresses (Widescreen Edition) (2008)

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