Movie Review: ‘Letters to Juliet’

May 16, 2010 Updated: October 1, 2015
(L-R) Amanda Seyfried, Vanessa Redgrave, and Christopher Egan.  (John Johnson/ Summit Entertainment )
(L-R) Amanda Seyfried, Vanessa Redgrave, and Christopher Egan. (John Johnson/ Summit Entertainment )

“Doubt thou the stars are fire;
Doubt that the sun doth move;
Doubt truth to be a liar;
But never doubt I love.”
 ‘Hamlet’ by William Shakespeare

Why is one called a “hopeless romantic” when harboring an authentic desire for true love? The simple and treasured notion of romantic love that we all carry can propel us to test its viability and courageously follow our inner promptings. Letters to Juliet sets out to illustrate that love is the catalyst and a springboard that will launch our most lofty version of ourselves.

The world is full of hopeful romantics and Sophie Hall (Amanda Seyfried) is one of them. Shakespeare’s most famous love story took place in fair Verona, and it is where Sophie’s adventure really begins. Sophie, an aspiring writer, and her restaurateur fiancée, Victor (Gael Garcia Bernal) have come to Italy for a little pre-wedding romance.

While Victor spends his days visiting vendors for his newest culinary venture, Sophie becomes intrigued by the courtyard overlooked by a balcony where notes of love lost and found are affixed to the stone wall in hopes of receiving an answer from Juliet.

When she follows a woman who collects the notes at the end of the day, she discovers the Club di Julietta, the volunteers who reply to each of the letters. Sophie is enlisted to join in and soon discovers one 50 year old letter hidden behind one of the ancient bricks.

When the letter’s author, Claire (Vanessa Redgrave) comes to Verona with her grandson, Charlie (Chris Egan), Sophie realizes she must take the trip to help Claire find her lost love, Lorenzo (Franco Nero). The trio take a road trip that turns into a journey of inner and outer discovery, and learn much about each other as they plumb their own depths.

This is a story that has been told since time immemorial—love lost and found, yet it still seems fresh, maybe it’s the stunning beauty of the Tuscany countryside that puts one in the mood. Simple and sweet, like sipping cool lemonade on a terracotta tile terrace on a summer’s day, it just may be the remedy to a day of stress and drudgery. The film is such a feast for the senses, full of all the richness that life offers—food, wine, and good company. The color, passion, and flavor of Italy are captured and savored. It’s hard not to get swept away, just like love.

The cast synch beautifully and believably, especially Vanessa Redgrave and her real life husband (Nero). The two newcomers, Seyfried and Egan, inspire laughter and hope, as the sparks, angry and otherwise, fly between them.

All art is meant to inspire, and this is one thing Letters to Juliet does well, whether realistic or not. The reality of love for most may rest somewhere south of what we see or hear. Maybe, just maybe, we could have it all if we stop doubting love.