of movie critics are decrying the death of the romantic comedy. I believe
this concern is a bit overstated, though recent examples like When In
Rome, What About the Morgans?, The Proposal, pretty much every movie
Jennifer Aniston has made and all too many others do make one
concerned about the genre’s state of health.
is a difficult thing to pull off, but periodically a movie appears that
makes you feel a measure of optimism for the art form.
Letters to Juliet.
is not a perfect film by any stretch, but it is a very charming romantic
fact, the movie stands head and shoulders over its competition for the
simple reason that it is both romantic and funny. You would think
this would be a dead giveaway, however distressingly few romantic comedies
that come out these days are able to achieve both of these states. In fact,
many don’t achieve either.
Letters to Juliet
may fall into certain
romantic comedy clichés and sometimes be a little hard to believe, but it
takes a truly romantic situation, mixes in gorgeous lead characters, truly
stunning settings and eternal love to create a frothy and beautiful love
Letters to Juliet is more lovable for its determination to give this
relationship gravity and import. Of
course, the fact that the two lead characters are the second most
interesting romantic relationship in the film may be considered a bit of a
problem; however it could also be considered a virtue. A movie that is
willing to allow the most intriguing romantic thrust to belong to a couple
of elderly people – and is willing to treat that romance as seriously as the
couple does – is more interested in storytelling than focus groups.
main couple, on the other hand, does the old romantic comedy mating dance.
They meet and it is hate at first sight. They are thrown together by chance
and fight constantly, but they slowly let their guard down, eventually
becoming friends and then falling for each other.
always wondered why in romantic-comedy land couples can’t just fall in love
at first sight and actually acknowledge their feelings rather than fighting
the mutual attraction. Love happens that way sometimes, you know. I mean,
I get it from a scriptwriting angle, I guess. If there is no conflict, then
there is no story.
However, if the same
story is used every time, isn’t the lack of the same old conflicts actually
a good thing? Besides, this film had lots of plot, so that the whole
opposites attract bit just seems a slight distraction to the film’s better
Amanda Seyfried plays
Sophie, a beautiful magazine fact-checker who would rather be a writer, but
can’t get her editor to give her a chance. She is engaged to a gorgeous man
who is more interested in opening his new Italian restaurant than he is in
his fiancée. (Okay, yet more rom com clichés here, but it gets better…).
the two go to Italy to check out some of his suppliers, he ends up leaving
her alone, so she explores the lovely city of Verona – home to the classic
lovers Romeo and Juliet. She stumbles upon the balcony which is
supposed to be where the famous “Wherefore art thou Romeo…” soliloquy took
place. For generations lovelorn women have come to the little courtyard and
left notes to Juliet about their love lives. Then Sophie discovers the
“secretaries of Juliet,” a group of local women who take down all the notes
and reply to each one.
Sensing an interesting story, Sophie joins the group of ladies responding to
the letters. Then she happens upon a 50-year-old letter stuck behind a
rock, from a young British woman who was about to lose the love of her life
rather than stand up to her parents. Sophie responds to the letter, never
really expecting that it will get to the woman, but days later an aging
British woman (Vanessa Redgrave) and her somewhat priggish-but-oh-so-cute
grandson (Christopher Egan) arrive. Despite the grandson’s protestations,
the group decides to travel the Italian countryside in search of the long
Okay, yes, some of this is a little schmaltzy but the story is still
surprisingly involving. Redgrave adds a wonderful playfulness and joie
de vivre to her character and Seyfried is a charming lead character.
It’s all somewhat predictable, but in the pleasant, familiar, fulfilling way
that a fine Italian meal is.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2010 PopEntertainment.com.
All rights reserved. Posted: July 4, 2010.