Archive for June 28th, 2010

Letters to Juliet

My normal film viewing has been interrupted by the world cup. When I did have a couple of hours to kill I found there actually wasn’t much to see so ended up going to see a movie I would probably normally have passed over.

Magazine fact checker and would be journalist Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) and her finance Victor (Gael García Bernal) take a pre wedding romantic holiday to Verona. Knowing they wouldn’t have time when Victor’s new Italian restaurant opens the holiday is in lieu of a honeymoon. Once in the beautiful and romantic city Victor takes time out from his fiancé to visit suppliers for his business, Sophie fills the time by becoming involved with a group of woman referring to themselves as “Juliet’s secretaries” who respond to letters written to Juliet Capulet.* She accidentally discovers a letter that has remained unseen for fifty years and decides to respond setting a chain of events in motion including helping Claire (Vanessa Redgrave) find the man she stood-up half a century before. The events also make Sophie question her own relationship.

Before I go on I have to point out that anyone who has read a couple or more of my reviews will know “contrived” is one of my most overused words when referring to plots. The elements that have to fall into place in this movie are so random that contrived doesn’t even begin to describe it, as such you must accept this in the same way as you suspend disbelief in a Sci-Fi movies.

In movie-land taking a pre-wedding holiday in lieu of a honeymoon is as sure to doom a relationship as having an affair with the best man so I don’t think I’m giving much away here. The cracks are evident as soon as you see Victor and Sophie together making you wonder how they got this far.

Gael García Bernal plays Victor to perfection, over acting at every opportunity. The self centred chef/restaurateur is very reminiscent of Giovanni Ribisi’s character in Lost in Translation. Amanda Seyfried does a great job and keeps the story ticking along nicely in a part she could have done in her sleep. But they are far from the best thing about the movie, that would be Vanessa Redgrave who brings a certain grandeur and gravitas to this movie they way she did with Atonement. To add to the perfection of the casting, her long lost love is played by Franco Nero who she had a relationship (and a child) with in the 60’s, separated then got back together and eventually married (in 2006). The near genius casting doesn’t extend to the character of her grandson Charlie, it is actually the biggest problem with the movie; Hollywood movies and American TV are full of British actors playing American characters or European villains. Now a British character comes along and is played by an Australian actor, Christopher Egan who both struggles with his accent and is a very week actor. To add to this he has absolutely no chemistry with Seyfried. How can you fail to have chemistry with Amanda Seyfried, just look into those big green eyes!

Also on positive point of view we are spared the poorly cast flashbacks often present in this type of movie, the stunning scenery of Verona and the surrounding countryside is very well captured. The negative, it is disposable and overly fluffy, the plot is hugely predictable and for every moment of great dialogue (there are one or two) there are several moments of pure cheese. Overall it is an inoffensive disposable movie but not one I will rush to see again.

Three Stars out of Five (but it would have been two without Vanessa Redgrave)


*a little research tells me there really is a group called Club di Giulietta (Juliet Club) who for the past 30 years have responded to letters written to Juliet.


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