(Sophie’s reads the letter that propels her into la la land.)
Starring Amanda Seyfried, Christopher Egan, Vanessa Redgrave and Gael Garcia Bernal. Directed by Gary Winick. 95 Minutes. PG.
If Letters to Juliet were a colour is would be pink. The pale, yet warm girly pink that lines little girls’ bedrooms and makes you think of strawberry ice cream, lip gloss and carnations. Letters to Juliet is what you might get if you took the five-year-old dressed as a fairy prancing around her living room, instantly aged her 15 years and told her to write a movie.
Letters to Juliet begins as the romantic comedy that isn’t yet aware that it’s a romantic comedy. Sophie Hall (Amanda Seyfried) is a fact-checker with The New Yorker who dreams of being a writer. She’s engaged to a soon-to-be restaurateur (Gael Garcia Bernal) and we’re supposed to believe that they’re in love, although he neglects her. When the two go on a trip to Verona, Italy for their “pre-honeymoon,” the distance between them swells even more. Aside from the fact that he’s too busy doing prep for his restaurant, he doesn’t even let her finish her sentences.
One day, while Sophie is spending the afternoon on her own while her fiancé is busy with food-tasting, she comes across Juliet’s wall. It’s supposedly the wall near Juliet Capulet’s home where women write teary love-sore letters and pin them to the wall for Juliet to read and reply. At the end of a day, a woman collects them all in a basket. Sophie sees this and follows the woman through town to find that this woman, along with a few others, reply to letters. They ask Sophie to join them and, with nothing else to do on her pre-honeymoon, she does. While collecting letters, she finds one hidden behind a brick from 50 years past. It’s about a woman (Vanessa Redgrave) who’s running away from her true love and Sophie undertakes it as her duty to reply. The next day, the woman returns to Verona and Sophie joins her on a mad chase throughout the region to find the long-lost Romeo.
The biggest problem with the film is that in order to believe that a relationship is falling apart, namely the relationship between Sophie and her fiancé, we need to first believe that a relationship was there, and the film doesn’t convince us of this. It’s hard to imagine that the two were even ever remotely attracted to each other. He ignores her and doesn’t care about her life and it’s impossible to believe that he ever did. When an English guy (Christopher Egan) who instantly dislikes her comes into the picture, the outcome seems all too predictable.
What’s also cliché is the soundtrack, far too Disney. You’re almost waiting for her to spin through a pink, sparkly haze and come out a princess. It’s hard to recognize Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” when it plays because it’s just such an obvious song choice that you’d think it would never be chosen.
It’s difficult to say how well roles were played because with such a corny script, it’s impossible to avoid corny acting. Nothing seems genuine when, after 50 years apart, true love reunites the couple and they’re both so unattached to their lives that they completely throw themselves at each other and ignore anything else that ever was.
But what was most ridiculous about the film was Sophie being a fact-checker. At least it only lasts for about five minutes. Unfortunately, the entire film lasts for 95. C