Reviewed by: Laura Busch
TRUE LOVE—What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer
|Featuring:||Amanda Seyfried (Sophie)—“Mamma Mia!”, “Dear John”
Vanessa Redgrave (Claire), Gael García Bernal (Victor), more »
|Producer:||Applehead Pictures, Summit Entertainment, Ellen Barkin, more »|
“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.
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.
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.
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.