- Rated: PG for brief rude behavior, some language, and incidental smoking.
- Runtime: 1hr. 44 min.
Letters to Juliet is a sweet film that caters to it’s intended audience better than most. While it’s fairly predictable, the film manages to retain it’s humor and charming atmosphere right up to the lovely ending that will have all the hopeless romantics swooning and applauding.
Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) makes a journey to the beautiful city of Verona, where Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet first met. She travels there with her fiance, Victor (Gael García Bernal) for a pre-wedding honeymoon, but Victor is intent on using his time there to find suppliers for the restaurant he’s trying to open in New York. While sightseeing on her own, she meets a group of women who answer letters written to Juliet that are stuck on the wall of Juliet’s house. She finds a letter stuffed in a hole that is 50 years old, and decides to answer it. A few days later, Sophie is stunned to find out that the author of the note, Claire (Vanessa Redgrave), and her overprotective, controlling (and handsome) grandson Charlie (Christopher Egan) are in Verona in search of the fiance she left behind decades before, thanks to Sophie’s response. Fascinated by Claire’s quest, Sophie joins them on an adventure through the rolling hills of Tuscany, searching out Claire’s long lost Lorenzo in the name of true love. Claire is not the only one who’s life changes forever as they discover that it is never too late to find your soul mate.
As I said before, Letters to Juliet is fairly predictable. Usually that is a low point for me when I review movies, but surprisingly, this film had a way of spellbinding you. The predictability was actually refreshing for a change. There are no sex scenes, no foul language, no situational nudity-for-comedy moments. This is a movie that you could enjoy seeing with your great-grandmother or (listen up fellas!) this would make a perfect date movie. Granted, there are moments that are so sweet that diabetics might want to check their blood-glucose, and the story feels a little superficial, but the wholesome atmosphere and the character interactions are really quite winning.
Naturally, Vanessa Redgrave and Franco Nero stole the show with endearing performances and amazing chemistry, which is no big surprise considering their personal history. Seyfried has become a romantic-comedy staple, and I’m glad to be seeing so much of her. She’s come a long way from As the World Turns and Mean Girls, and here she’s as lovely and composed as ever. Egan was the only one that was a little unbelievable. He’s so good at being a jerk early in the film, that it’s hard to swallow his change of heart and sudden love-interest spotlight toward the end.
Director Gary Winick is right at home leading our characters on their journey. This film perches neatly on top of his growing stack of films such as 13 Going on 30, Bride Wars, and 2006’s Charlotte’s Web. The locations chosen to film Letters to Juliet are simply gorgeous; you see backgrounds of rolling Tuscan hillsides, quaint little Italian villages, and golden rays of sun lighting up acres of lush vineyards. This is one of the most beautiful movies I have seen in a while.
The best thing about Letters to Juliet is that it focuses not only on the importance of following your heart, but it places strong importance on the word “family”. Our lead characters have had it rough in the family departments, but Claire is not only a romantic inspiration, she’s a stand-in mother for Charlie and Sophie. I expected a few teary moments, but they weren’t where I thought they would be. There’s a moment when Sophie is feeling pretty down, and Claire goes to her room and brushes her hair for her. She says that one of life’s great luxuries is having one’s hair brushed. That scene was very powerful and touching without the actresses having to say much, which, in my book, shows a wonderful moment of great acting, directing, and writing all moving together as one to make a fantastic scene. It commanded emotion by reminding you how much you love your mother (or made you nostalgic for a memory you may have never had).
Letters to Juliet is a movie for women of all walks of life, no matter what their age. It’s for those who have loved and lost, for those who are still searching, and for those young ones who dream of fairy-tale romances. It’s wholesome, enchanting, and good clean fun for a girl’s day out, seeing a movie with Mom, or that notoriously nerve-wracking first date. However and with whomever you decide to see this movie, it’s one that will leave you feeling good and floating your feet off the ground all day.
I give Letters to Juliet 4 “chick-flick kit items” out of 5.