LETTERS TO JULIET movie review

by Rick Grant
For screenwriters Jose Rivera and Tim Sullivan, coming up with a new twist on the cliche romantic comedy must have been difficult. However, they succeeded in creating an intriguing device to setup the romance as a feel-good fantasy.
Directed by Gary Winick, with Amanda Seyfried starring as the vulnerable Sophie, the picture moves at a steady pace as Sophie discovers her soul mate may not be her fiance,’ chef Victor (Gael Garcia Vernal). For reasons she can’t explain, she is detached from the magic of their love.
The two lovers travel to Italy so Victor can scout distributors for his new restaurant in NYC. He’s busy going to wine auctions and other food events. In contrast, Sophie is alone but strangely content to explore Italy’s sights.
Sophie and Victor end up in Verona and Victor is off again to find some rare truffles some distance away. While taking in the sights of Verona, Sophie come across the house that inspired Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” There, on a wall, young women leave impassioned letters to the mythical Juliet.
Through some detective work, Sophie discovers a group of ladies who take the letters off the wall and answer them as Juliet. Intrigued by this unusual cadre of letter writers, Sophie joins the group with the intention of writing about it for her publication, The New Yorker, where she is a facts checker. Of course, she aspires to be a journalist and this story may get her the job.
A turn of fortuitous events leads Sophia to a special letter written by Claire, (Vanessa Redgrave) an elderly lady who had left the letter on the wall behind a rock 50 years ago. Along with Claire’s grandson, Charlie, (Christopher Egan) the trio sets out to find Claire’s lost love. This odyssey takes them through the most scenic parts of Italy’s wine country in Tuscany.
Sophie derives great joy from helping this lady find a long lost love but she also begins to question her engagement to Victor.
Meanwhile, Victor seems to be in love with food and wine more than his fiancee. He’s in the Mecca of Italian cooking and he doesn’t care what Sophie does. This is a hint that there is a major problem in the relationship.
The romantic premise in “Letters to Juliet” refreshes the belief in love conquers all. This movie is one of the better examples of the romantic comedy genre.