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; the overall premise here sugars the heart like the perfect icing on a moist cupcake. Sophie, (the wide-eyed and silken haired Amanda Seyfried--Dear John, Mamma Mia! The Movie (Widescreen) and Big Love: The Complete Seasons 1-3) a wannabe writer, travels to Verona with her fiancé Vincent (the frenetic Gael Garcia Bernel), a food and wine enthusiast and soon-to-be restaurant owner and chef. Purveyor opportunities send the passionate Vincent on gourmand fare finding missions that take him away from his beloved and catapult her into Capulet territory--literally showing her another brick in the wall of the Casa di Guilietta. In this case, the wall wails a bit with letters of the lovelorn from a variety of countries collected each day by a quartet of Italian Dear Abbys that act as Juliet's secretaries, dutifully answering the pleas scribbled from present day petitioners of Shakespeare's most famous maiden. When Sophie finds an undiscovered note written by Englishwoman Claire bemoaning her decision to leave her lover Lorenzo some fifty years prior, she feels compelled to respond, setting an entire chain of events in motion that may motivate her to write an entertaining feature story but threatens her upcoming nuptials. Enter stage left, the softly aging Claire (the one and only Vanessa Regrave) appears, prompted by Juliet's long awaited response; she comes to seek her man. Cynical Charlie (Christopher Egan), the handsome blonde grandson scowls attractively and, of course, cannot help but hate to love the ever-romantic Sophie. Let me reiterate: As the plot has potential, the golden cypress-speared scenes of the Crete Senesi area of Tuscany lull with their stark photographic beauty and the actors exude sex appeal and enough sad-eyed empathy to play without dialogue, why does this film seem like a wasted 105 minutes?
Perhaps `wasted' is too harsh a term. The film attempts to be a pretty confection. Nonetheless with all these marvelous ingredients, why doesn't "Letters to Juliet" play like a modern day Shakespearean sonnet that honors love both old and young?
I think the fault lies mainly in this film's editing. Perhaps to keep the film under two hours, Bill Pankow went digital scissor happy. Somehow the character of Charlie transferred from the Sophie hating camp to the Sophie loving camp in crucial moments not seen on the screen. These pre-loving/lusting moments are shown in montage fashion akin to a music video wonder depicting more Tuscan beauty and unheard dialogue between the two leads that the audience needs to hear rather than imagine. Seyfried pouts and tears up prettily, but as in her performance in Dear John, she doesn't seem to have the range to portray a more mature character. Egan charms with a Prince Edward polish, yet the dialogue extended to him could have been more developed, less clipped and much more believable if written to enhance his obvious selling points. As a couple, the duo does have chemistry, but the script is hard put to utilize its foundations to the fullest extent. Not enough scenes providing more emotional disclosure limits both actors.
Case in point: both characters suffer from the loss of mothers--why not a flashback so the audience can absorb the emotional impact of this? We understand that Sophie and her boyfriend care but do not share a passion for each other's work. An over abundance of this interplay between Seyfried and Bernal certainly exist. However, the same scene building is not afforded to the bond between the two eventual lovers. Unfortunately, Redgrave's role resigns her to little significant dialogue. As the lovesick grandma, she speaks with her eyes while she searches convincingly for the eyes of her Lorenzo.
In such a film, the positive aspects of life are sure to take a warm "Under the Tuscan Sun" glow that at times seems more like a travelogue than an adjunct to a scene. In "Under the Tuscan Sun (Full Screen Edition)" Diane Lane and her fellow players exuberantly compliment the loveliness of the scenery and even though there are many moments in Audrey Wells 2003 film that are downright corny and predictable, it somehow works for that particular genre of a film that doubles as two hours worth of tourist marketing. Who wouldn't want to go Italy and hook up with the likes of Franco Nero, his son and grandson or Raoul Bova? A veritable smorgasbord of men for women of any age.
Bottom line? "Letters to Juliet" is meant to display the landscape of Tuscany and the city of Verona in Venito though the golden filter of love both young and old. Unfortunately, due to a script that eliminates critical bonding between the two lead characters, the film lacks the warmth that one has come to expect from romantic comedy. Predictability doesn't even come into play here. Everything looks wonderful--both the cast and locales--but a lack of engagement between the audience and the film's characters makes this reviewer wish she had more to smile and laugh about while remembering this film. Vanessa Redgrave's quiet performance is recommended. Diana Faillace Von Behren "reneofc"
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. … more
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 … more
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.
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 … more
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.
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 … more
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 tear-jerker...in a romantic way).
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
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 Verona, Italy. 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 ...