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Review: Letters to Juliet

Letters to Juliet
May. 14, 2010by:
7 10

PLOT: Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), a fact checker for The New Yorker, is in Verona on a pre-honeymoon with her restaurateur fiance (Gael Garcia Bernal). One day, while visiting the historic home of Juliet Capulet, immortalized in ROMEO & JULIET, she discovers a fifty year old letter, involving a teenage English girl, abandoning her Italian lover to please her rigid parents. Sophie innocently answers the letter, only to discover that the girl, Claire, now a woman in her sixties (Vanessa Redgrave), has traveled to Verona, along with her grandson Charlie (Chris Egan) in search of her lost lover.

REVIEW: Amidst a slew of terrible chick flicks, and insipid romantic comedies, it's always a surprise to discover an example of the genre that DOESN'T suck, so LETTERS FROM JULIET was a pleasant surprise. I really expected to loathe this film, as it was from the director of BRIDE WARS, and had a gooey trailer that made it look like a NOTEBOOK rip-off. Suffice to say, I didn't loathe it at all, and to my great surprise, was somewhat charmed by it.

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While it hardly breaks any new ground, LETTERS FROM JULIET is aided greatly by the fact that it was shot on location in Verona and Tuscany, so there's lots of breathtaking scenery to admire, not the least of which is leading lady Amanda Seyfried.

Until now, I never got what all the fuss was about regarding Seyfried. Sure, she's got the all-American/cheerleader good looks, and a KILLER body, but I didn't find her the most charismatic girl in the world. Seyfried's been real busy lately, with LETTERS being her third film to come out in the last six months- but all these roles seem to have paid off as she's matured into a capable actress. She does well carrying the film, which I suppose is her first real lead, and I found her immediately likable.

It helps that she's paired up with an old pro in the form of Vanessa Redgrave, who plays the older Claire. Redgrave's still a wonderful actress, and a beautiful woman despite her age. As the object of her affection, I got a kick out of seeing DJANGO himself, Franco Nero, turn up. Nero and Redgrave have quite the history, with the two of them having had a relationship around the time they did CAMELOT back in 1967. Since then, their relationship has supposedly been on again/off again, but a few years ago, they reunited for good, and were married. Obviously, the two truly love each other, and that comes across on-screen, and gives the film a weight it wouldn't have had otherwise. Their scenes together are both bittersweet, and touching and made me wish the film had focused more strongly on them.


Alas, I suppose audiences aren't terribly interested in a love story between two people in their sixties, so we get a tacked on relationship between Seyfried' and Egan. In comparison, their romance pales. Egan's a blond haired, blue eyed pretty boy, who's incredibly bland in this (although I've heard he was good in a short-lived TV show called KINGS). He tries way too hard to channel Hugh Grant, but he doesn't quite cut it. Their relationship is right out of the rom-com play book, with them initially hating each other, until suddenly falling head over heels in love. BUT WAIT!!! She's already engaged!!! What will they do??? Their whole relationship is as clichd as can be, but had Egan been a worthy romantic partner, it wouldn't really have mattered. Inexplicably, the filmmakers decided to put Gael Garcia Bernal, a brilliant Spanish actor, in as Seyfried's clueless fiance. Bernal's way too good an actor to get such a worthless role, and he would have made a far better romantic partner for Seyfried than Egan. Having him turn up in a film like this is like having Daniel Day-Lewis turn up in a stoner comedy- it just doesn't fit.

That aside, LETTERS FROM JULIET is still a pretty charming film, and the tween-friendly audience I saw it with seemed to eat it up (although they became a hysterical mob when the TWILIGHT ECLIPSE trailer played before the movie). I'm pretty tough to please when it comes to films like this, but I actually enjoyed this movie despite my cynical self. While it's not a great flick, it gets the job done, and would make a solid date flick.

RATING: 7/10

Source: JoBlo.com

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