MOVIE REVIEW ...
LETTERS TO JULIET
Sometimes it's unclear whether romantic comedies provide the emotions they're meant to convey. Whilst many have become timeless classics, others have simply used the template to masquerade as an endless travelogue. Letters to Juliet almost veers towards the latter with its pretty characters going through starry-eyed angst in gorgeous foreign climes. Although predictable the picturesque settings provide a distraction from its somewhat risible tale.
Engaged to restaurateur Victor (Gael Garcia Bernal), Sophia (Amanda Seyfried) arrives in Verona Italy, the setting for Romeo and Juliet, for a holiday. More interested in recipes than romance, he leaves her feeling deserted. Bored she meets a group of women who respond to letters from those seeking advice on love. Joining them, she discovers an old letter from Claire (Vanessa Redgrave). Reading about her search for a lost love, she sends a heartfelt reply. After receiving it, Claire leaves for Italy with her Grandson Charlie (Christopher Egan) who holds the key to Sophia's future as she becomes intoxicated by Italy's seductive allure.
Despite the contrived nature of events and a far fetched premise, Letters to Juliet manages not to be a total waste of time. This can be put solely on the chemistry of those involved despite an old fashioned script just about passing muster. When the Italian locals speak perfect English, you know you're in pure fantasy-land. One shouldn't take it too seriously as after a rather clunky opening it gradually settles into its 'searching for love' narrative quite well. The scenery is a feast for the eyes as it isn't too difficult to make Italy look good as it papers over the screenplay's more implausible moments.
The message of seizing chances as they arrive is interwoven well with Claire's search. Bringing together her Grandson and Sophia in her quest, her mischievous match-making hides her pain of missed opportunities. With an actress of Vanessa Redgrave's standing her seemingly one dimensional role is given an added touch of poignancy. Complimented by Seyfried and Egan's appealing presence, the film plays more of an ensemble piece than predominantly focussed on the leads.
If you don't like romantic comedies then Letters to Juliet won't change your view. It's corny in the extreme and fluffy as you'd expect any over-ripe yarn to be. The enthusiasm of the cast and the great Italian vistas manage to make it more bearable than others of its rose tinted ilk.
Movie Review by Patrick Moore
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