Home ContentFilm Review – Letters to Juliet

Film Review – Letters to Juliet

Published : August 27, 2015

Love is found in Verona Italy, but quite possibly lost, for audiences in Amanda Seyfried’s latest endeavour, Gary Winick’s romantic drama/comedy ‘Letters to Juliet’.

Letters to Juliet (2010)

reviewed by Holly N Richards


Set largely in Italy, ‘Letters to Juliet’ is inspired by a real-life group of Veronese women who call themselves the "Club di Giulietta" (The Juliet Club) and have been answering those who leave letters at Juliet's grave for over 100 years. The film begins in New York City where Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is a researcher for the New Yorker and her Latino boyfriend Victor (Gael García Bernal) is a chef and restaurant owner. The couple, who are engaged, manage to take time from their busy city lives to enjoy a ‘pre-honeymoon’ in Verona, the home of star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet. While Victor neglects Sophie to source Italy’s finest cuisine, Sophie spends time sight-seeing and visits Juliet Capulet’s grave where she discovers the “Club di Giulietta”.  After striking up a friendship with the women, Sophie finds and responds to a letter that has been lost for 50 years, inspiring its author, Claire (Vanessa Redgrave) to travel to Italy from England to find her long-lost soul mate. Together, the two women, accompanied by Claire’s belligerent grandson Charlie (Chris Egan – of Home and Away fame) embark on an adventure throughout Northern Italy in search of love once lost. Claire’s journey forces Sophie to reassess her own destiny which results in a web of tangled heart strings.

The idea that true love, soul mates and destiny exist is not one foreign to the romance genre. However, it all seems a little overwhelming and hard to grasp in ‘Letters to Juliet’. The overlays of images of famous paintings and photographs of lovers kissing, in the beginning sequence of the film, let you know immediately what you are getting yourself in for. The rest of the film is a non-stop sap-fest, the plot so intrinsically wholesome and based on fate, that the audience is left disbelieving the events. The setting doesn’t help either. What should be breathtaking, sweeping images of the Italian country side come across as a two dimensional back-drop, so saturated by yellow tones that the scenes almost appear to be taking place on a sound stage. As the central characters journey around the country side by car, the use of close-up shots in the rear view mirror, are contrived, and will leave audiences groaning at the starkly obvious sexual tension between Sophie and Charlie.

Despite the script not providing the best material, the actors do a stellar job with what they have been given and steer the film clear of a complete disaster. Since ‘Mean Girls’ and a career boosting performance in HBO drama ‘Big Love’, Amanda Seyfried has made a name for herself as Hollywood’s latest wide-eyed, glowing ‘good girl’. She carries off the character of Sophie well and the chemistry between herself and Chris Egan’s character Charlie is believable. Victor is an energetic and likeable character, his deep love for food somehow excusing him from an equal love for Sophie. Vanessa Redgrave is a delight as always and the Italian characters in the film are genuinely funny and endearing, albeit a little cliché.                        

The film is so saccharine it will be a little hard to swallow for some viewers. Amanda Seyfried almost resembles a cupcake herself, under the yellow tinted lighting, with her buttery blonde hair, sugary voice and a wardrobe of lip-smacking pastels. Despite how delicious the romance genre and Sophie’s character may be, the mind numbing predictability of the plot, right up until the sickening Romeo and Juliet-esque ending, is tiring and would leave Shakespeare himself shuddering in his ruff.

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