LETTERS TO JULIET (2010)

May 22, 2010

 Greetings again from the darkness. Admittedly, for me there is a fine line between an acceptable chick flick and one that is pure fluff. Oddly enough, this one brings a few fine moments to the screen despite its simplistic predictability and overall lack of creativity.  It easily could have been titled “Where for art thou, Lorenzo?”.

Amanda Seyfried (Mamma Mia) stars as Sophie, a wannabe writer who stumbles on a 50 year old letter at the wall of Juliet in Verona. She then tracks down the Secretaries of Juliet who let her answer the letter. Poof! Just like that, the author of the original letter (a radiant Vanessa Redgrave as Claire) shows up in Verona to meet Sophie and track down Lorenzo, the lost love of her life (the reason for the letter).

There are absolutely no twists or surprises in the movie. We recognize immediately that Sophie and her fiancé (a miscast Gael Garcia Bernal) are all wrong for each other. How this will end is very clear when Claire’s grandson (Heath Ledger clone Christopher Egan as Charlie) first confronts Sophie in cliched rude Brit manner.

The road trip to find lost love Lorenzo is of course a road of discovery for not just Claire, but also Sophie and Charlie. I am struggling to avoid typing yada, yada, yada. The coolest part of the film is when Claire finds her Lorenzo … a dashing Franco Nero on a galloping steed, who also happens to own the vineyard for Claire’s favorite wine (insert eye roll here).

Anyway, the Tuscan scenery is staggeringly beautiful. And watching real-life couple Redgrave and Nero walk hand in hand is very heart-warming. These two first fell in love during the mid-60’s while filming Camelot. This cost Ms. Redgrave her first marriage (famed director Tony Richardson), but the lovers did not marry until 2006. It’s never a good sign when real life is more interesting than the movie.

If you are cool with an obvious and uncomplicated story line (similar to Amy Adams’ Leap Year) set in the gorgeous Tuscan wine country, then the film will be fine for you. On the other hand, director Gary Winick was also responsible for Bride Wars, so the least he can do is turn in his director’s card and move into a second career dealing with pure maple syrup.

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