Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Letters to Juliet

posted by Nell Minow
B-
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for brief rude behavior and sensual images, some language, and incidental smoking
Profanity:A few bad words
Nudity/Sex:Some sexual references and non-explict situation
Alcohol/Drugs:Drinking, smoking
Violence/Scariness:None
Diversity Issues:None
Movie Release Date:May 14, 2010
DVD Release Date:September 14, 2010

Two bad signs. One is when you spend the entire movie thinking that a couple of Google searches would have made it possible for everyone in the story to save a week’s effort and everyone in the audience about an hour of viewing time. Another is when the B couple is twice as interesting as the A couple and sets off ten times the romantic electricity.

But the Italian scenery is very pretty.

Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is a fact-checker for the New Yorker who dreams of being a writer but is too insecure to insist on a chance. She and her restaurateur fiance Victor (Gael García Bernal) go to Italy on a pre-wedding vacation, but he gets caught up in work and leaves her on her own to explore.

In Verona, best known as the setting for “Romeo and Juliet” and the real-life story that inspired it, Sophie finds that a small group of women gather up the letters left in Juliet’s wall by lovers looking for help. And then they write answers providing sympathy and guidance. She finds a letter that had been inside the wall for 50 years, from an English girl who lost her nerve and went home instead of meeting the boy she loved to run away with him. And she decides to answer it.

The letter-writer turns out to be Claire (Vanessa Redgrave), who arrives in Verona with her grandson, inspired by Sophie’s letter to try to find the man she left behind half a century before.

Can Sophie come along? Can this be the story that will move her from fact-checker to writer? Is Claire’s grandson, who initially appeared to be so arrogant and unlikeable, in fact a hottie and a sweetie? Will someone end up on a balcony? Naturalmente, senza dubbio!

Redgrave is radiant as the woman who is hoping for a romantic miracle. Claire never stopped loving the boy she met in Italy but she did not let her regret interfere with a life of purpose and loving relationships. Still, the encouragement from Sophie’s letter has her hoping for a miracle — that she can find her lost love and that he still cares for her. Redgrave shows us Claire’s resolve and her vulnerability, her practicality and her optimism. She is pure magic and she makes us want to see Claire find some magic, too.

But she is so good that she casts a spotlight on the weaknesses of the rest of the movie. Her grandson Charlie (a bland Christopher Egan) is rude and dull. Of course the first thing he will do on accompanying his grandmother to Verona is take time out to track down Sophie so he can yell at her. Yes, we like to see lovers begin with antagonism so we can enjoy the delicious moment when they make a deep connection and have to admit to themselves that they like each other. But the antagonism is so arbitrary it makes Charlie unlikeable. And that moment? They smash ice cream cones into each other’s faces. That doesn’t exactly get us rooting for them to get together. Too much in the movie makes too little sense. Why do they have to drive around to ask dozens of men with the same name whether they are the one? Why is Bernal playing such a stock character (and yet still showing more chemistry with Seyfried than Egan)? Why, why, does there have to be a last-minute fake-out to drag things out further?

Juliet, if you’re out there, I’d welcome a letter in reply.



  • iorek

    “Why, why, does there have to be a last-minute fake-out to drag things out further?”
    Because chicks live for “last minute fake outs to drag things out further.” The more excruciating the fake-out, the better its value as foreplay. I don’t know if you have ever read anything by Jane Austen, but I hear that if you eliminate the fake outs, missed connections and misunderstandings, her entire body of work could be reduced to a short story.

  • http://www.ourmushpush.com lindalou

    You were kinder than I was with your movie grade. I gave it a C. We are down close and we totally agree on Vanessa Redgrave illuminating the screen.
    Great review.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Thanks, Lindalou — we were only half a grade apart and we both agreed on Redgrave, so that counts as agreeing in my book! Appreciate your comment.

Previous Posts

Dr. Martin Luther King's Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech
This week's release, "Selma," begins with the ceremony honoring The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King with the Nobel Peace Prize. Here is the real footage of his famous speech. [iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/5r98tT0j1a0?rel=0" frameborder="0"]

posted 12:00:34pm Dec. 22, 2014 | read full post »

A Child's Christmas in Wales
The whole family will enjoy this beautiful version of Dylan Thomas' classic memory about his family Christmases in Wales. [iframe width="420" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/GrLDaAG7j_o?rel=0" frameborder="0"]

posted 8:00:23am Dec. 22, 2014 | read full post »

Pride
The ingredients for this film were so irresistible that it is a unexpected bonus to find that it is so much better than it needed to be. It's based on a true story of extraordinary kindness, generosity, and friendship and it stars a bunch of adorable English actors (Imelda Staunton, Bill Nighy) w

posted 6:00:25am Dec. 22, 2014 | read full post »

Interview: Ava DuVernay of "Selma"
My favorite movie of the year is "Selma," the story of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King's march from Selma, Alabama to the state capital, Montgomery, to bring attention to the barriers the

posted 9:41:45pm Dec. 21, 2014 | read full post »

Smile of the Week: A Boy and a Penguin
This reminds me a little of the depiction of a child's world in The Complete Calvin and Hobbes and Barnaby. [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iccscUFY860[/youtube] Many thanks to Slate for this and the others on its list of the year's best ads.

posted 12:06:45pm Dec. 21, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.