Thursday, 10 June 2010

Cinema Review: Letters to Juliet

Quickly becoming one of Hollywood's most sought-after actresses, Amanda Seyfried stars in her second romance of the year (the first being Dear John) which, despite its predictability, is one of the most surprising.

Sophie (Seyfried) and her obnoxious fiancee Victor (Gael Garcia Bernal) head to Verona, Italy on a pre-wedding vacation. Busy with organising his restaurant, Sophie is left to walk the idyllic streets by herself. Stumbling upon Juliet Capulet's house and the wall of letters written by love-torn souls, she finds an unanswered fifty-year-old letter belonging to an undecided woman named Claire Smith (Vanessa Redgrave). Writing her back, Claire and her irritating grandson (Home and Away's Christopher Egan) head to Verona to find Sophie, then hopefully the true love she left behind all those years ago.

Entirely unfazed by the sometimes sloppy writing and the pre-destined ending, Letters to Juliet provides us with a simplistic love story which, by every means, is effective. Seyfried, proving herself capable of a story other than romance with this year's seductive thriller Chloe, positively glows. Exuding enthusiasm, class and style with every film, her character of Sophie is an adorable female lead who goes hand-in-hand with the stunning landscape of Italy.

Redgrave, winning this year's BAFTA Fellowship award, is a worthwhile companion for Sophie, with their heartwarming, relatable chemistry blossoming throughout. Transcending into an almost Mother-Daughter duo, their scenes together are captivating and genuine - made even more touching due to Vanessa sounding almost identical to her late daughter Natasha.

Bernal plays his part of the overbearingly unobservant fiancee well, with Australian actor Christopher Egan playing his counterpart. At first, entirely loathsome but thankfully morphs into a kind-spirited and charming male lead - and of course the match for Sophie which is clearly vacant by her fiancee. Provided with the vast majority of cheesy but amusing one-liners, Egan also works incredibly well with Seyfried. Matching both physically (the perfect poster couple, no?) and personality-wise, their constant bickering is easy entertainment and their flirtacious behaviour will have women of all ages quivering.

Working almost entirely down to the warmth between the characters, the sweeping romance doesn't go a-miss with Gary Winick's clear eye for the sincerely beautiful, dream-like setting. Spanning over Italy, the film technically could stand as an overlong travel advertisement. Still, the film is shrouded in romance. The culmination of both couples (you knew it was coming!) is glorious.

While not perfect, the story of love at any age is a message which has been thrown on-screen a lot lately. The story, written rather delicately, is a simple one which eases the target audience in nicely with a likable lead and a sumptuously perfect Italian setting. Despite the last fifteen minutes (transcending in the toe-curdlingly atrocious), Letters to Juliet is a breathtaking, moving romance which succeeds in differentiating itself from the rest of the flock.


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