Letters to Juliet
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In Verona, Italy the beautiful city where Romeo first met Juliet there is a place where the heartbroken leave notes asking Juliet for her help. It s there that aspiring writer Sophie finds a 50-year-old letter that will change her life forever. As she sets off on a romantic journey of the heart with the letter's author, Claire, now a grandmother, and her handsome grandson, all three will discover that sometimes the greatest love story ever told is your own.
Audio Commentary with Amanda Seyfried and Director Gary Winick; Deleted and Extended Scenes; The Making of Letters to Juliet: In Italia; A Courtyard in Verona
Letters to Juliet succeeds in being just what it's meant to be, a feel-good romantic comedy about love lost and love found, in which love triumphs in the face of cynicism. Inspired by the book of the same name, and filmed against the beautiful backdrop of Verona, Italy, the movie tells the story of how troubled young women seek advice from Shakespeare's Juliet by leaving letters tacked to a wall, where they are carefully answered by Juliet's self-appointed "secretaries." One such note is found 50 years later by Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), a young American woman who is soon to be married and who yearns to become a writer. Her heartfelt answer to the letter serves as a catalyst for an epic romantic journey that will span continents and generations. The success of the film lies in the powerful interaction between the wistfully romantic and fully mature author of the letter, Claire (Vanessa Redgrave); the romantically idealistic Sophie; and Claire's overly pragmatic, downright cynical grandson Charlie (Christopher Egan), who grudgingly accompanies his grandmother on what he deems an insane quest to Verona to find her long lost love, Lorenzo. The filmmakers, writers, and actors all capitalize well on the comic possibilities of the situation, and there are more than a few good chuckles to be had at the absurdity of the interactions between these three very different characters, as they experience everything from hope and longing to disappointment and unexpected fulfillment. In the end, each character grows and changes profoundly as a result of their shared journey. Sure, the events portrayed in the film are highly unrealistic, but that doesn't change the fact that the film speaks to that innermost part of us all that, despite all logic, makes us want to believe that true love really does exist and that it just might triumph in the end. --Tami Horiuchi
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But I like the other two plot lines better. For most of the movie, Vanessa Redgrave (Claire) has to romance the memory of Lorenzo. And she turns that memory into a person the audience wants to meet. When the real Lorenzo finally does appear, Redgrave nails the hope, fear, boldness, and self doubt that are always part of such an important moment.
The other plot line I like is between Claire and Sophie. They develop a mother-daughter relationship over the course of the movie. Some of it is obvious (the hair brushing scene) and some is more subtle (Sophie frequently touches Claire's arm as reassurance). But it is interesting to watch Claire and Sophie lovingly gang up on Charlie when he gets to be a bit much and then see Sophie and Charlie gang up to support Claire when she gets down.
Finally, the soundtrack includes the Italian version of "I'm a Believer".
Well acted, relatively complex plot, good music, lovely scenery, and sly jokes. Letters to Juliet is a better than average romance.
LETTERS TO JULIET is a travelogue of the lush Italian countryside as much as it is a romantic comedy about characters who follow their hearts and have grand adventures while racking up petrol money. This is heart-on-its-sleeve cinema, the sort which steeps itself in unlikely dialogue such as: "I'm sorry, I didn't know true love had an expiration date." and "Grazie, destino." And the production company must've scampered off with all the rude Italians and locked them away because the locals here are across the board welcoming and charming, and it makes me wanna go visit. Sophie Hall travels to Verona with her oblivious fiance on what is intended to be a pre-honeymoon jaunt. Instead of paying attention to her, the fiance waxes rhapsodic about cheeses and mushrooms. When she offers to do her thing while he does his thing, he calls this a "Win, win" situation. You can't see me but I am shaking my head right now. I am wise in the matters of the heart.
Sophie is a fact checker for the New Yorker magazine, but she aspires to be a writer. Serendipity arrives when Sophie, in one of her solitary walks in Verona, chances upon Juliet's Courtyard (yes, that Juliet!), on which walls brokenhearted women have posted their lovelorn, sometimes tear-stained letters. We then set eyes on the Secretaries of Juliet, women volunteers who collect these letters every day and then respond to them (and this makes me want to pick up the book this film is based on). When Sophie finds a 50-year-old letter hidden away in the wall, she embarks on an unforgettable journey, with the letter's author Claire and Claire's priggish grandson Charlie as her companions. Or, actually, she tags along while Claire goes off on her quest for lost love while Claire's grandson casts disapproving glances her way. Too much time on their hands? Maybe. Too starry-eyed? Without a doubt. But Italy will do that to you, rob you blind of your senses.
Something about LETTERS TO JULIET allows you to be swept away. The glorious scenic locales inhabit this movie, and they invite you to buy into the mood and the tone. I honestly didn't think Amanda Seyfried and Chris Egan exhibited that much chemistry, although Seyfried is wonderful and pitch perfect in her role, but Egan left me unengaged, sorry to say. The two leads' characters have a prickly first meeting, so that's promising. But then the story doesn't go to demonstrate enough of Charlie's development from cynical cold fish to British gent in love. But never mind. The casting coup is in landing Vanessa Redgrave, and she is simply exquisite as the wistful Claire. She makes you long for the things that happen in this movie to happen in real life. For those incurable romantics who tend to swoon over Audrey Hepburn and Clark Gable, LETTERS TO JULIET delivers a similar whiff. See it for that and for the idyllic landscapes and for Amanda Seyfried and, mostly, for Vanessa Redgrave. And, remember, romantic holiday - stick to your girl like glue. Squirrely things happen if you don't.
The DVD's bonus material: Audio Commentary by Director Gary Winick and a quietly sarcastic Amanda Seyfried; 2 Deleted & 6 Extended Scenes (totaling 00:10:10 minutes); the Making Of the Film featurette (00:12:41); "A Courtyard in Verona" - a featurette covering subjects such as Lise & Ceil Friedman's historical book from which the film was adapted and the construction of Juliet's Courtyard back in the '30s, and also the cast speaks briefly of love, the poor fools (00:05:41).
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Yes, I heartily reccomend