Sunday, October 17, 2010

Movie Queue Monday: "Letters to Juliet"

I admit it—I am a sucker for sickly sweet romantic films in the "While You Were Sleeping" and "Return to Me" school of rom com. While there are many spectacular romantic dramas, (this and this come to mind), they are much less likely than romantic comedies to have the nice, neat happy ending that is so satisfying after a long day's work in the real world. That being said, not all "happy-go-lucky" romance films are equal, and some are downright awful. "Letters to Juliet" definitely falls in the latter end of the spectrum.

"Letters" is about a young aspiring writer (Amanda Seyfried) who travels to Verona, Italy with her fiancee for a pre-wedding vacation. Feeling neglected by her restaurateur fiancee who ditches her to do research for his business, our young heroine sees her chance to "make it big" as a writer when she discovers a mysterious, decades-old letter asking (Shakespeare's) Juliet for love advice. Sophie decides to reply to the letter and is amazed when the woman who wrote it, Claire, (Vanessa Redgrave), now a grandmother, shows up with her reluctant and stuffy grandson (Christopher Egan). The three embark on an unlikely journey through the Italian countryside to find Claire's long-lost Italian beau.

I haven't given away any spoilers, but if you've seen the trailer, don't bother renting "Letters to Juliet" because you've essentially seen the whole film. "Light" romantic films like this are usually pretty predictable, but the good ones usually have some humor or charm to make up for it. I noticed that this film was marketed as a drama, but it definitely missed the boat there, lacking both the depth and somberness of a true drama. Apparently the scriptwriters were banking on the "meet cute" of Egan and Seyfried and the Italian scenery to draw the audience in, but it really wasn't enough. The combination of Egan's stiff performance, Seyfried's doey-eyed romanticism and a flat script left much to be desired. Not recommended, even for the die-hard romance fan. Two out of five stars.

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