Bottom Line:Letters to Juliet is a good date movie — a fluffy plot, mediocre acting and little character development. If you’re looking for an excuse to make out during a movie, this is the one for you.
It seems like the perfect story for Sophie (Amanda Seyfried). While on vacation with her fiance, the fact-checker and wannabe writer for The New Yorker stumbles upon a love story decades in the making. Unfortunately, due to Seyfried’s poor performance, Sophie’s adventure turns out to be more fun for her and her potential future readers than for the audience of Letters to Juliet.
Sophie seems to be a character on the lookout for love, even though she is engaged to the wonderful Victor (Gael Garcia Bernal). She finds any excuse to spend time away from him, and go on a wild goose chase for a man named Lorenzo. Because Sophie is so eager to get away from Victor, Bernal gets disappointingly little screen time.
The far more compelling love story in this date movie is the one that also intrigues Sophie — that between Claire (the wonderful Vanessa Redgrave) and Lorenzo (Redgrave’s real-life beau Franco Nero). Perhaps because of their off-screen romance, Redgrave and Nero steal the show. Sophie’s petty problems are pushed to the side to make way for the epic romance of Claire’s search for her Lorenzo.
The title of the movie, Letters to Juliet, is actually based on a real concept. Women from all over the world write letters asking for advice on love problems, and address them to Juliet. The “secretaries of Juliet” then take the time to respond to every letter and send advice. If only the movie was as charming as the premise on which it is based.
The supposedly central love plot occurs not between Sophie and her fiance, of course, but between Sophie and Charlie. Charlie, Claire’s grandson, comes off as a generally sour and unpleasant individual that no one would want to get to know. So naturally Sophie is supposed to fall for him. Chris Egan, who plays Charlie, is woefully underutilized in his role. Charlie is supposed to make the smooth transition from asshole to sweetheart. Instead, his disposition changes so quickly he seems like two different people. And while the accent is charming and the tender moments skillfully portrayed, Charlie is just too much of a cliché to be taken seriously as a romantic interest.
Letters hits all of the notes that a date movie should hit, though nothing more. There is the scene in which Sophie reveals a secret about her past that makes her a more sympathetic character, the reciprocal moment where Charlie’s abrasive nature is explained and even moments of comedy. Some highlights include Charlie falling off of a wall and hitting the ground like a sack of bricks, and all of the laughably cheesy one-liners that Charlie uses to make a pass at Sophie.
The problem with Letters is that it only meets the bare minimum of requirements for a decent date movie. Go see it on an actual date, but otherwise don’t waste the $8.50 on a mediocre movie.