Saturday 12 June 2010

Letters To Juliet (2010)

In Gary Winick’s romantic trifle Letters to Juliet (2010), Amanda Seyfried plays Sophie, a New Yorker fact-checker and aspiring writer who travels with her budding-restaurateur fiance Victor (Gael Garcia Bernal) to Verona for a pre-wedding vacation. Once there, Sophie is enchanted by a public practice whereby young women leave letters asking romantic advice of Shakespeare’s Juliet; their missives are answered by a volunteer group of women styled “Juliet’s Secretaries.” Sophie discovers a letter by an English girl named Claire, who, it emerges, gave up her Italian lover, Lorenzo, and returned to England. Though the letter was written fifty years before, Sophie replies to it and, lo and behold, Claire (Vanessa Redgrave) appears in Italy with her uptight grandson (Christopher Egan), eager to find out the fate of her old beau. With Victor distracted by business, the trio set off on a quest to track down Lorenzo.

As the above synopsis might indicate, Letters to Juliet (2010) has been released strategically to target a very specific demographic: those already suffering from football fatigue. The film suggests a Nicholas Sparks-meets-Mamma Mia! hybrid, but it motors along with a moderate amount of charm and appeal for much of its running time. Though there’s a sense throughout that Winick and the screen-writers Jose Rivera and Tim Sullivan aren’t making as much of the material as they might, you begin to care for the three central characters and to enjoy their interactions.

So it’s unfortunate that the film blows it with a shamelessly contrived and poorly staged conclusion that makes you feel embarrassed for having succumbed. (It’s the kind of movie you wish you’d left about ten minutes before the end.) Given the premise, you might have expected the film to inject some of the craziness, darkness, magic and melancholy of Shakesperean drama (or comedy) into the proceedings but the best the film can offer, finally, is a painful pastiche of the Romeo and Juliet balcony scene. The recourse to rom-com formula is certainly dispiriting, but for the most part, the movie is a pleasant, exceedingly picturesque diversion and it boasts some appealing performances. Seyfried is lovely (though you can’t help but wish that someone would give this actress a really decent film to be in), Garcia Bernal is amusing as a guy who clearly prefers food to his fiancee, and even the rather stilted Egan begins to grow on you (a good thing, since the plot requires him to be an irritant initially). And Redgrave is, well ... radiant as always. The film plays off of the actress's personal history in one significant piece of casting, but what counts more than that is the spontaneity and soulfulness that she brings to her scenes. Investing the film’s corniest dialogue with the weight and consideration that she might give to a Shakespeare sonnet, her acting - and sheer star quality - transcend the banality of the scenario. “She’s awesome,” breathes Seyfried’s character at one point. The viewer can only agree.


  1. now why did you go and see a chick flick?
    were you on a date?

  2. Today I watched DIE HARD 1 AND 2 to compensate.

  3. Good review...glad someone saw it before me, I was wary. I'll go see it now, though!

  4. I'd say it's worth it overall; it's a pleasant enough diversion. But keep your expectations fairly low!

    Good vacation?

  5. I'm all for pleasant diversions, especially on slow or rainy days.

    Thank you for asking! Vacation was very wonderful. I feel human again, recharged and relaxed. It was actually a two part vacation. One part relaxing, the other visiting the city to see if I liked it. I went to a meeting halfway through my vacation where I learned I was accepted to study with The University of Manchester there in the UK. I'll be in their English Language and Linguistics program starting this fall. I'm very excited about it! It was a great vacation, being able to come back home filled with excitement.
    Have you been up to Manchester? I really liked the area, the people, the city.

  6. That is wonderful news; many congratulations! I have never visited Manchester myself, but I'm sure you'll have a great time there. Exciting!

    Who You Gonna Call
    Tel 44-(0)208-323 8013
    Fax 44-(0)208 323 8080

    Hi Alex,

    On behalf of Summit Entertainment, many thanks for plugging "Letters to Juliet" ... .. thanks also, on behalf of the distributors and producers, for not posting any pirate copies or non-trailer clips of "Letters to Juliet" and, if you / your readers want good quality, non-pirated, previews, then the official trailer is available for fans and bloggers to post / host / share etc at ... .. for further details of on-line promotions for this movie, check-out and, for info on Summit releases generally, check-out the official site and YouTube channel at and

    Thanks again for your plug.



  8. Excellent review here, but by God Vanessa Redgrave really is amazing.

  9. Well, our reviews both kind of ended up as (love) letters to Vanessa, didn't they?!

    Do you have a favourite Redgrave performance?