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Movie Review

Letters To Juliet also known as “Briefe an Julia,” “Cartas Para Julieta”

MPAA Rating: PG for brief rude behavior, some language and incidental smoking.

Reviewed by: Laura Busch
CONTRIBUTOR

Better than Average
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Kids Family Teens Adults
Genre:
Romance Drama
Length:
1 hr. 44 min.
Year of Release:
2010
USA Release:
May 14, 2010 (wide)
DVD: September 14, 2010
Copyright, Summit Entertainment click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Summit Entertainment Copyright, Summit Entertainment Copyright, Summit Entertainment Copyright, Summit Entertainment Copyright, Summit Entertainment Copyright, Summit Entertainment Copyright, Summit Entertainment Copyright, Summit Entertainment Copyright, Summit Entertainment
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Summit Entertainment

TRUE LOVE—What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer

Sex, Love & Relationships
Learn how to make your love the best it can be. Discover biblical answers to questions about sex, marriage, sexual addictions, and more.
Featuring: Amanda Seyfried (Sophie)—“Mamma Mia!”, “Dear John

Vanessa Redgrave (Claire), Gael García Bernal (Victor), more »
Director: Gary Winick
Producer: Applehead Pictures, Summit Entertainment, Ellen Barkin, more »
Distributor: Summit Entertainment

“What if you had a second chance to find true love?”

“Letters to Juliet” tells a story of true love that cannot be constrained by time or distance. The film begins as protagonist, Sophie (Amanda Seyfried—“Mamma Mia!”, “Dear John”), a young aspiring journalist from New York, travels to Italy with her fiancé, Victor (Gael García Bernal), for a pre-honeymoon. Their romantic trip to Italy is not what Sophie had imagined, as her self-absorbed fiancé, Victor, would rather spend more time talking business with colleagues than be with her.

Sophie’s vacation takes an interesting turn when she visits the fictional home of Shakespeare’s Juliet, and she discovers that women from around the world leave letters on Juliets’ wall asking her for love advice. Sophie soon learns that these letters are collected daily and answered by a group of women who call themselves the “secretaries of Juliet.” One day, while Sophie is helping gather up the day’s letters, she discovers an old unanswered letter dated 1951, asking for advice about the long lost love of her youth, whom she fell in love with while in Italy.

Sophie answers the old letter and soon finds herself embarking on a journey through the Italian countryside with the letter’s author, Claire (Vanessa Redgrave), a widow, and her grandson, Charlie (Christopher Egan), in search of Claire’s lost love, Lorenzo.

Positive Elements

From a moral standpoint “Letters to Juliet” makes the cut, as it does not resort to the tasteless innuendo so typical of the modern chick flick. This film’s belief in true and enduring love, as portrayed through the characters of Sophie and Claire, is refreshing.

This film’s beautiful photography of the lush Italian countryside sets a happy tone and is made even more inviting as this film seems to portray a warm and friendly world reminiscent of years past.

Another positive aspect of this film is Charlie’s relationship with his grandmother. Despite his apparent skepticism about his grandmother’s search for Lorenzo, he truly loves her and cares about her well-being and does not want to see her get hurt.

Also, the relationship that forms between Sophie and Claire is one of kindness and motherly love. Sophie is determined to help her find Lorenzo, while Claire offers Sophie motherly advice and comfort for past heartaches.

Negative Elements

From a cinematic perspective “Letters to Juliet” relies on the formulaic clichés that most films of this genre employ. Even though the film seems to drag a bit at moments, its beautiful cinematography features many stunning shots of Italy’s verdant countryside.

The whole concept of Sophie and Victor going on a pre-honeymoon is offensive, and it is implies that they are sharing the same hotel room for part of their stay. Though, it should be noted that this film is free of any sex scenes or implications of sex scenes. Sophie and Victor spend very little time together while in Italy. There are several kisses exchanged between various characters throughout the film, but none of them are overly passionate.

One of the “secretaries of Juliet” mentions twice that she imagines that a couple “still makes passionate love every night.” There is some minor innuendo in the form of a double entendre, when Charlie suggests to Sophie that they “hit the sack,” but he corrects himself realizing how it sounds.

In one scene, an older man is shown wearing a Speedo-style swimming suit and an unbuttoned shirt, and Sophie wears a cleavage bearing dress in another scene. The opening credits are superimposed over classical works of art, and one of the works of art briefly features a bare-breasted woman.

God’s name is misused approximately 12 times (“Oh G*d” and “Oh my G*d”), one s-word is uttered, 1 “bollocks,” and a man flips off the air in anger.

Various characters are seen drinking wine and champagne with their meals or at a winery throughout the film, but none of them get drunk.

Summary and Recommendations

Despite “Letters to Juliet”’s reliance on clichés, I applaud the filmmakers’ decision to rise above the tasteless sexual innuendo and crude jokes so pervasive in most of Hollywood’s romantic films. Even though “Letters to Juliet” is overly sappy and predictable at times, overall, this film’s story is still very sweet, enjoyable, and clean for the most part, and it is certainly one of the better choices for couples or a family movie night.

Violence: Minor / Profanity: Mild to Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Moderate

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—…I’m pleased to say that I made it to the movie on opening day, and to go even further, it was a pretty good movie from start to finish! I dragged my brother along with me and even he came out admiring the film’s message about love. He commented how he liked the fact that this film deals with the duration of true love… it is not something that is easily forgotten or shaken—love holds fast. In a way it could be said that there is a picture of 1 Corinthians 13 with the characters of Claire and Lorenzo. With the younger characters, Sophie and Charlie, we are reminded that we shouldn’t base our opinions of others on first impressions. They learn to respect and be open with one another, which in turn leads to their foundation of love.

Obviously, “Letters to Juliet” is not a perfect film. There are one or two paintings in the opening credits that could have been left out. The reason for Sophie being in Verona in the first place is that she and her “fiance” are there for a pre-honeymoon (this includes sharing a bedroom—but we never see anything since they are never around each other longer than to do anything but quick kiss).

Another reason for the movie’s plot is that the brokenhearted in love leave letters to Juliet, asking her for guidance (just me, but why would you want to ask counsel of a woman who pretends to be dead—in turn causes Romeo to kill himself—which finally leads to Juliet taking her own life out of ultimate despair?). That being said there is some “idol” worship of Juliet by those who are jinxed in love. Some of Sophie’s wardrobe is a little low.

Other than what I’ve mentioned above, it is a movie I would recommend to my peers and older friends. In the end, we walked out with a smile--thinking how much our parents (coming up on their 30th anniversary) would enjoy this valentine to true love… be it young or old.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Cara, age 24 (USA)
Positive—This movie is much like the song “Love Story” by Taylor Swift. Sweet, fluffy, about a fairy tale, a tad sappy, and a little cliché. However, I happen to love “Love Story,” so I enjoyed the movie very much. It’s a good “Girl’s Night Out” movie. Vanessa Redgrave is delightful and Amanda Seyfried is charming. And the reciprocal quipping between Sophie (Seyfried) and Charlie is very entertaining. There were, of course, a few one-liners that could have been left out, as well as the whole “pre-honeymoon” thing. And I now have a new destination to add to my list of places to see before I die: Italy, and in particular Verona. The scenery was breathtaking. All in all, it was a cute movie and worth seeing again.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Sarah C., age 19 (USA)
Positive—Pleasant breath of fresh air. Although the main characters start their journey “purposing” to have a pre-honeymoon vacation, they never spend any time together, so there are no scenes portraying a pre-marital relationship. The story was sweet, charming and soft. No language, no sex or inappropriate innuendos, no gay humor, and no off-color jokes. A bit of kissing, but nothing over the top. The scenery of Verona creates a perfect backdrop for a classic love story.

Probably ok to take the your teen girls. Leave the guys home for this one; it’s a guilty pleasure flick for the ladies only.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Diana O, age 41 (USA)
Positive—I really enjoyed this film, and it is definitely worth seeing. Although it is somewhat predictable, as is common with films of this genre, it is refreshingly clean and free of sexual innuendo. It is a slow romantic story that emphasizes the subtle relationships and tenderness between people.

There were a number of inappropriate uses of God’s name, but only one other swear in the form of someone giving the main characters the finger in the background, is present in this film. At one point, Christopher makes fun of Sophie for using God’s name in the same sentence with a word such as marvelous, obviously commenting that her language was not very classy.

There is some worldly morality in the form of Sophie going on a pre-honeymoon with her fiance and they share a hotel room. However, at no time do we see any sex scenes or any hint of that which is refreshing. The couple are rarely shown together in the film and only share kisses.

The film is very supportive of the marriage relationship. One thing that most people seem to have missed is that there IS a positive God reference in this film. Although the characters talk about “destiny,” at the end when they are making a toast, the main character points up to the sky and the female character looks up to the sky in the reference that they had a little help.

The relationships between the characters are quite strong such as the motherly-daughter type relationship between Claire and Sophie, Christopher and his grandmother, and the importance of family relationships in helping us get through bad times.

The scenery and also presentation of the Italian culture are very nicely presented. The acting is also very good. I would recommend this film.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Kathy, age 49 (Canada)
Positive—I thought this was a decent, entertaining, and good movie. However, I would not pay to see it again in theaters, because I thought it was a little “cheesy” and very unrealistic, and predictable. But as far as moral issues go, this is a pretty decent and sweet movie!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Lauren, age 18 (USA)
Positive—Concerning the moral aspects, the main commenter, and the viewer comments, are correct. This is not a Christian film, but is less objectionable than many. I found the film quite entertaining, despite the “cliche” aspects.

Part of my delight in the movie is because of a factor that none of the reviewers have mentioned so far: ***WARNING, possible spoiler*** The part of the elderly Claire who wrote the titular “letter” is played by Vanessa Redgrave, who also played Guinevere in the 1967 movie 'Camelot', based on the Broadway musical. In that movie Guinevere has a doomed romance with Lancelot, played by Franco Nero, who now plays Claire’s long-lost love in this movie. Casting genius, in my opinion. Nero and Redgrave actually fell in love during Camelot and married. If they appeared on-screen in any other movies, I’m not aware of it; as far as I know, this is the first opportunity we have had to see Guinevere reunited with Lancelot. ***END SPOILER***

My wife and I were particular charmed to see a number of elderly couples in the theater, but the teens seemed to enjoy themselves as well.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Jeremy Klein, age 55 (USA)
Positive—To the extent that it is possible, ALL the listed comments to date are, in one way or another, right on target. The movie is sweet, with great development of loveable characters—even the peripheral folks the featured characters happen upon during their searching (i.e., one of the Lorenzo’s wives telling them to “Take heeem!… Take heeem!!!”) . Great writing. And, no villains! Even Victor, who just doesn’t quite “get it” is disarmingly charming in his own way.

Being a 71-yer-old retiree whose wife still works, I first saw the movie solo. It was so well done, I brought my wife (not a great movie fan) to see it, several days later. She has never before commented so lavishly about any of the few movies she has seen with me. Dunno about my spouse, but I want to see it yet again, before it leaves the big screen.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Jim Riedle, age 71 (USA)
Positive—WOW! This was absolutely delightful movie! It was very clean, no cuss or swear words that I could remember. No sexual content or graphic kissing scenes. I think that anyone could see it, though I don’t think the little ones or the boys would find it interesting! I really found this movie quite enjoyable and walked away from the movie quite satisfied! It brings out all your feelings, indignation, happiness, amusement, surprise, and tears of joy! If you like comedy romance and know that true love exists, go see this movie!!! GOD BLESS!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Maureen O’Hara, age 19 (USA)
Positive—My opinion teetered on neutral, but I gave this film a positive because in the main stream it is so hard to find a romantic film that is not filled with explicit words and scenes. This film is mostly clean. The engaged couple barely has a kiss, and there are just a few other kisses in the film which is fine. There is the implication that pre-marital sex goes on which is hard to avoid in today’s films, but there is absolutely no visual indication given.

The only thing I would warn about this film is it’s fairly 'cheesy', the acting is flat except for Vanessa Redgrave, and it’s predicatable and almost humerously unrealistic. For example, the main character, Sophie, is a fact checker for the New Yorker. Publishing is a field that is notorious for paying some of the lowest salaries—yet she appears to live in Manhattan, goes on a trip to Italy and stays at great hotels in the wine country, even ordering room service, and there’s absolutely no mention of money the entire film. You have to assume her Dad is giving her money or something.

Also, she acts as if she goes to Italy every other week and is so non-thrilled with being in this beautiful place with spectacular scenery and food, etc. She doesn’t even look out the window at the scenery ever or comment on her surroundings—kind of odd if you’ve ever been to Italy.

Also, there is a disproportionate amount of scenes where everyone has a glass of wine. Like you can’t walk around Italy without a glass of wine in your hand.

But, overall, an enjoyable film. You can’t watch it twice, though, too flat.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—auido, age 48 (USA)
Neutral
Neutral—This was a sweet movie. However, I can’t agree with all the glowing comments about what a “clean” movie it is. Guys, the original couple is living together, and the majority of their relationship is based on sleeping together. They stay in the hotel together. It was distracting for me and such a sad starting point.

I did really enjoy the rest of the movie. But sleeping together before marriage should still be offensive in a movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Michelle, age 36 (USA)
Negative
Negative—My husband and I watched this movie together and were both greatly disappointed. It was a very poor quality movie. They really could have made it so much better. We were very bored throughout most of the movie. It was much like watching a movie that was written, directed, and acted out by amateurs. As for moral content, it was a lot cleaner than most movies. It does take the Lord’s name in vain a lot, though.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: ½
—Diana, age 30 (USA)
Negative—I went to see this film on my 3rd wedding anniversary. I am not a big fan of sappy girly movies, but it was my anniversary, and it was the only film showing in town (Seward, Alaska). My wife cried after the movie, like most sappy movies, and, at the time, I did enjoy the film.

After the weekend, things seemed strange with my wife, I wasn’t sure what it was. The following Saturday, upon returning home from work, I discovered she had packed and left. What I hadn’t known, was that for a few months she had been talking to a high school boyfriend, her first love. He had recently left his wife and child, and as they talked, she told of some unhappiness that she was feeling. The movie was the final straw, she was going to leave a marriage built on love and respect in order to chase after that first true love.

Everyone always thinks that when they get a sign, it’s god talking to them, but the devil is also battling for our souls. This movie is not one that really respects marriage, but feeds the fires of teenage infatuation.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Jason, age 31 (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—I am glad my grandma and I got to see this clean, cute and refreshing chick flick together. There was a brief mentioning of love making, but it was referring to a married couple. Hollywood did itself well making the movie, “Letters to Juliet.” We will rent this movie when it comes out at Blockbuster and laugh, cry, and laugh again!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Emily, age 12 (USA)
Positive—This movie was a fun tale of Romeo and Juliet, without all the family feuds. It shows that you always have to go with your heart, and that the man you are engaged to may not be the guy you think he is. From a biblical perspective, the movie told how God works in mysterious ways. It, also, shows how you should never settle for something less than the best. In the movie, there are some brief moments of sexual conduct and a little profanity. Overall, that is a great movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Nakayla, age 11 (USA)
Positive—Really wonderful!!! I loved it!! Watch this film!! It really opened my eyes to what love can be!!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Carla, age 14 (South Africa)