Directed by Gary Winick
Written by Jose Rivera & Tim Sullivan
Letters to Juliet is a film which caught the least bit of attention from me when it was released. It features great Spanish actor Gael Garcia Bernal, though apparently in a small role, and Vanessa Redgrave, of the famous Redgrave acting family. Other than that it looked like your typical cheesy romance about Romeo and Juliet set in the beautiful Italian countryside. I had very limited interest in see the film until I discovered that my roommate had purchased the film. I don’t even know when, but since it is the end of the year in film and I like to be as thorough as I can, I decided to go ahead and fit another 2010 release into my viewing schedule. Why not? Maybe I would be surprised.
Also starring in the film is one of Hollywood’s current “it” girls, Amanda Seyfried. Seyfried plays Sophie, who is a graduate of Brown University, double major with a minor in Latin. Yet Sophie works at The New Yorker as a fact checker. She is also engaged to Victor (Garcia Bernal), who is opening his own restaurant and is a bit crazy and preoccupied with food at all times. So before the restaurant opens, they decide to travel to Verona, Italy, for a pre-honeymoon. There Sophie is on her own as Victor goes around looking at all the great wine and food. She visits the site of Juliet’s balcony (didn’t know it existed, I thought the story was fiction, but whatever). From there she sets off on an adventure to find love, for new friend Claire (Redgrave) and herself.
The film plays out pretty typically and by the book. The cheesy romance is there, full with sap stories about who lost who at what point in their lives. The male character that is a jerk and heartless that is still somehow extremely charming, handsome, and basically the dream guy. There is the ideal of true love and how you can wait a lifetime for it. There is the distracted boyfriend who just doesn’t appreciate the woman he has right in front of him. It is all so typical. The problem is, it is typical for a reason. People eat this stuff up. And sad to say, me included. The different is I admit to it being completely and utterly ridiculous, already tread upon territory. It is not original, it is not groundbreaking, it is not deep enough to establish characters I care about, but it is a romance, and who doesn’t like a good romance?
All of the actors pretty much ham it up, though I found Redgrave to be charming. And in addition, Garcia Bernal, with limited screen time, seemed to know what was going on and was so beautifully and deliciously over the top with his portrayal of the passionate cook. The film did finish strong and maybe that is just the ideal romantic in me talking, but it had some heart to it, even if it didn’t have a mind, much like our leading lady Sophie, who believes in true love, yet cannot see the problems with the man she is engaged with. She is a double major from Brown who comes off, at times, as less intelligent than that, and is somewhat afraid of pursuing her dreams of being a writer. I cannot recommend this film to anyone I know, unless you are a girl who thinks Christopher Egan is better looking than Gael Garcia Bernal. Or maybe if you are in the mood for a hopeless, cheesy, over the top romance story, which we all are prone to.