Monday, 10 May 2010
FILM REVIEW: LETTERS TO JULIET
Out May 13
Amanda Seyfried seems to have a penchant for letter writing. Either that or her agent does. In 2008's Mamma Mia! she played Meryl Streep's fatherless daughter who mailed letters to the three men she believed may be her dad, thus sparking the ensuing musical mayhem. And in this year's Dear John, she maintained a correspondence with her soldier beau (Channing Tatum). Now in Letters To Juliet, she is again at the mercy of paper and pen.
Sophie (Seyfried) is a fact checker for The New Yorker but really wants to be a writer. She heads to Verona, Italy with her fiance, Victor (Gael Garcia Bernal), for a pre-honeymoon vacation (as you do!). But Victor's a budding restaurateur, so spends most of the trip sourcing wine and food. He's a selfish, boorish prat so Sophie should be thankful for all the time she gets alone; there's no discernable reason why she would be marrying Victor, other than that he looks like Gael Garcia Bernal.
In her alone time, Sophie discovers a local tradition where heartbroken women leave letters to Juliet (of Shakespeare's Romeo et al) and a group of local women who reply to them. Upon finding a letter written 50 years ago from a young English girl, Sophie writes to her and within days the now 60-ish Clare (Vanessa Redgrave) arrives in Verona to track down Lorenzo Bartolini, the young Italian man she loved but abandoned half a century ago. Sophie thinks this will make for an excellent story and joins in the search.
But Clare is escorted by her grandson, Charlie (former Home And Away star Christopher Egan), who thinks his grandmother's trip is pure folly and directs his anger at Sophie. Charlie's a grade-A jerk so, of course, the pair will eventually find each other attractive and, inevitably, there will come a point where Sophie will have to choose between the least offensive of the two men.
But until that predictable denouement we are kept involved by Clare's search for lost love, thanks to the grace and dignity Redgrave brings to the role. Her real life husband, Italian actor Franco Nero, also makes an appearance, and it is these segments of the film which are, much to my surprise, quite affecting.
Sophie's story arc is less involving and one has to feel sorry for Seyfried. The talented young actress (she also appears on TV's Big Love) doesn't embarrass herself in her first lead role but she's not given a lot to work with either.
On the flipside, she had the opportunity to work with Redgrave. Add this to working opposite Streep, and Julianne Moore in the upcoming Chloe, and she's receiving the perfect apprenticeship. I guess her agent's not doing such a bad job after all.