Letters To Juliet
Review by Cassam Looch
DESPITE a classy and heartfelt performance from veteran actress Vanessa Redgrave, Letters to Juliet joins the long list of predictably disappointing romantic comedies that have populated the cinemas in recent years.
The film follows the fortunes of engaged couple Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) and Victor (Gael Garcia Bernal) as they decide to take a pre-wedding honeymoon to (picturesque) Italy and cement their relationship.
He is busy trying to launch a restaurant and she is wondering if there is more to her career as a fact-checker.
Sophie wants to become a writer and can’t resist following up on a hunch when the opportunity presents itself. She learns that there are a group of women in Verona who respond to the desperate requests of help sent to Juliet of Romeo and Juliet fame.
Sophie finds a long-forgotten letter sent 50 years ago and decides she has to reply. Much to her surprise, she is confronted days later by the writer’s uptight English grandson and more remarkably by the writer herself who is desperate to follow up on the advice offered and find true love.
Sophie decides to help Claire (Vanessa Redgrave) despite the protests of Charlie (Christopher Egan), who is worried it might be too much for his grandmother.
As they set off on the beautiful rural roads together, Sophie begins to question her own life and wonders if she and Victor really are meant to be together?
And so we get the very obvious soul-searching that these films deem necessary. It is hard to see exactly what Victor is doing wrong in the relationship… sure he is over-enthusiastic at times and might get a little distracted… but I can imagine it being quite tough to launch a restaurant in New York!
Gael Garcia Bernal is an odd choice for this role; you can imagine someone else playing the ‘wet blanket’ character but not Bernal. The most convincing scene in the film comes towards the end when Sophie and Victor finally face up to their problems and he does a good job in conveying a man trying to keep things together while facing up to the harsh reality before him.
All this adds to the sense of not wanting Sophie to have a happy ever after ending. It doesn’t help that Charlie is such an insufferable twit. He enters the scene as an annoying stereotype and never lets up… the word ‘blasted’ has never been used so liberally (nor so inaccurately!).
The sparring between Egan and Seyfried is poor at best, and there is no sense of chemistry between them. Even when they are on-screen together, they are both instantly forgettable as these limp characters.
They are also constantly blown away by Redgrave, who is superb as ever, even when the plot is signposted from miles away.
The scenery is stunning and the backdrop only lacks something of merit in the foreground.
Running time: 105mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: October 4, 2010