Title: Letters to Juliet
Language: English, Italian
Genre: Comedy, Romance, Adventure
Director: Gary Winick
Writers: Jose Rivera, Tim Sullivan
Music: Andrea Guerra
Cinematography: Marco Pontecorvo
Gael García Bernal
Luisa De Santis
An adequate rom-com, also the final movie made by the genre journeyman Gary Winick (who passed away from brain cancer in 2011), LETTERS TO JULIET stars Amanda Seyfried as a modern-day romantic heroine Sophie Hall, travels from New York to Verona and serendipitously, destiny presents a new light into her life under the tourist-swarmed spot, Juliet’s balcony.
The story threads through two pairs of searching for love, Sophie, must choose between her restaurateur fiancé Victor (García Bernal, thanklessly loquacious and inward-looking) and a young British barrister Charlie Wyman (Egan), who, very importantly, provides pro-bono service for those who cannot afford a punitive legal fee; meantime, Charlie’s grandmother Claire Smith (Redgrave) is trying to track down her Italian lover Lorenzo (Nero), with whom she has lost the touch 50 years ago.
And it is all because Sophie chances upon Claire’s letter to Juliet, which is preposterously stuck in the wall adjacent to the said balcony for half-an-century without being noticed (not to mention there are soi-disant “Juliet’s secretaries” frequently collecting these letters and voluntarily answering them accordingly), so Sophie writes back to Claire and it prompts the whole junket trip to locate Lorenzo’s namesake one by one, lavished with the area’s bucolic landscape.
Pedestrianly emulating a time-tested template but with generic but feel-good wheezes (piteous backstories is a must, he is parentless and she is deserted by her mother and attraction must be bred from initial enmities, etc. etc…), the film is very self-aware of its functionality and target demography, Seyfried is particularly photogenic in her fresh-faced innocuousness, and overtly star-struck in front of a gracious Vanessa Redgrave, who was in a very difficult time at then because of the sudden bereavement of her daughter Natasha Richardson (1963-2009) due to a ski injury, and stoutly puts on a strong face along with this therapeutic filming process, safeguarded by her spouse Franco Nero, long live Vanessa! For those who watch LETTERS TO JULIET of his/her own volition, blithe gratification is guaranteed, whereas for those who don’t bother to do so, there is no loss either.
referential point: Winick’s 13 GOING ON 30 (2004, 5.9/10).