Sunday, February 2, 2014

Letters to Juliet (2010) [PG] ***



Each day dozens of tearful, lovelorn women of every age leave plaintive letters and poems to Juliet, Shakespeare's tragic heroine, on the courtyard wall of Juliet's historic home in Verona, Italy. In each missive the writer pours out her heart, begging Juliet for advice on some romantic problem in her life. Each evening, volunteers from the real-life Juliet Club collect the missives and answer them.

Fifty years earlier, in the summer of 1957, a fifteen year old English girl named Claire fell in love with Lorenzo, an Italian boy from Siena in Tuscany. But their love was doomed, and in desperation Claire wrote to Juliet, stuffing her letter into a deep crack in the wall. Fifty years later Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) finds Claire's letter while on a vacation to Verona with her fiance Victor (Gael Garcia Bernal). Sophie is a fact-checker for The New Yorker magazine, who aspires to be a real writer; her fiance Victor is a narcissistic chef who is totally focused on his new restaurant, and has no time for Sophie. After meeting the Juliet Club, and reading Claire's fifty year old letter, Sophie writes to her, and incredibly enough, less than a week later Claire (Vanessa Redgrave) and her grandson Charlie (Christopher Egan) arrive in Verona on a quest to find the aging Lorenzo (Franco Nero).

While Claire is kind and warm, Charlie is an irritating snob. Nevertheless, as Claire, Charlie and Sophie search Tuscany for Lorenzo, Sophie and Charlie predictably fall in love. Although this sounds like the perfect formula for a romantic comedy drama, the execution falls short. While production values are excellent, the leads are attractive and the cinematography of Tuscany is beautiful, sadly, there's no romantic chemistry between Seyfried and either Bernal or Egan, there's no memorable dialogue, and the soundtrack is underwhelming. The viewer is left with the feeling that this is little more than a lovely travelogue of Tuscany. Only forgiving fans of Amanda Seyfried, Gael Garcia Bernal and Vanessa Redgrave need bother with this film. However, if you are interested in romantic comedy dramas set in the warm sunshine of Italy or France, I can highly recommend A Good Year, Only You and A Room with a View, and can mildly recommend Under the Tuscan SunStealing Beauty and French Kiss


Labels: comedy, drama, romance 

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