Sunday, June 13, 2010

Letters to Juliet

Hmmm...well, my cheeks are still clammy after seeing that movie just now. So, it's effective in its romantic and emotional seduction, if ever so slightly contrived.

It tells the story of Sophie, a fact-checker for The New Yorker, who goes to Verona with her fiance for a pre-wedding honeymoon (as you do!) However, it turned out that her charming fiance was more interested in researching wine and attending wine auctions for the opening of his new restaurant in New York, leaving Sophie to her own devices. So, she joins a group of volunteers who reply to letters written by young girls to 'Juliet' seeking advice about love. She, happens upon a letter written 50 years previously by Claire, hidden behind a rock, and replies. Next, (you've guessed it!) Claire arrives (Vanessa Redgrave), with her obnoxious grandson, Charlie. So begins their quest for Lorenzo Bartollini, of whom there are hundreds. But, Sophie's skills as a fact-checker come into play, and they manage to narrow it down somewhat. The relationship between these three characters, Sophie, Claire and Charlie develops as they pursue Lorenzo in a fairly predictable fashion. I'd like to say it takes some unexpected twists and turns, but no... This is a film about comfortable and comforting stereotypes and about a fairytale ending that can be expected from the outset, but sometimes a bit of melodrama and a happy ending is ok. It is funny in parts too, mainly from Charlie's rather forthright arrogance and in the sarcastic dialogue between him and Sophie.

The shots of Italy were stunning, not only the ancient streets of Verona, but the open countryside of Sienna, miles upon miles of vineyard, and the moon casting light each night over the sleeping towns. Vanessa Redgrave fits beautifully into such a setting and is dazzling in her conviction of the existence of true love. The doey-eyed Amanda Seyfried plays her part well, though personally I didn't see any uniquely individual qualities setting her apart from such actors as Drew Barrymore, Reese Witherspoon etc...

On the whole, what you see is what you get with this movie. It's not very challenging, thought-provoking, nor does it cross into any new areas. But it is a sweet romantic comedy, and allows you to travel to the exotic fields of romantic Italy for a little under two hours.

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