Ah, summer movie season. It’s full of blockbusters, frat-boy comedies, and rom-coms. Granted, I’m generalizing, but summer movies tend to get old quickly. I’ve browsed IMDB’s Summer Movie Guide and there’s not much to look forward to, unless there’s some surprise, well-reviewed hit. It hasn’t even been a week since Memorial Day- I’m not sure I’ll make it to August.
This is why my friend Daniela and I were in a bit of a dilemma yesterday, when we finally made a trip to the theater. We debated between Prince of Persia and Sex & the City. Both got terrible reviews, so we ended up buying tickets for Letters to Juliet. (Side note: I was absolutely shocked when my ticket only cost six bucks. How awesome.)
Letters to Juliet stars Amanda Seyfried as Sophie. She travels to Verona with her fiancé Victor (Gael García Bernal) on a “pre-honeymoon”. Sounds like a fairy-tale already, right? But Victor, who is opening a restaurant, begins to neglect Sophie as he meets with suppliers. Sophie is left to explore Verona when she meets the “secretaries of Juliet”. These women spend their days answering letters women left at Juliet’s courtyard, all asking for advice when it comes to love. Sophie joins them and soon finds a long-lost letter dating back fifty years. Since she can’t bear to leave the letter unanswered, Sophie writes back.
A few days later, the woman who wrote the original letter, Claire (Vanessa Redgrave), arrives in Verona inspired to search for the lover she left decades ago. After a chance encounter, Sophie joins Claire and her handsome yet pompous nephew Charlie (Christopher Egan) on their sojourn through the Italian countryside. And really, I can stop describing the plot now because the trailer gives away everything.
Despite its predictability, I found Letters to Juliet to be such a pleasant film. Even though all the leads are pretty much stock characters, the actors all give solid performances. Seyfried has come a long way from her Mean Girls days- she’s transforming into one of Hollywood’s brightest young actresses. Redgrave is just radiant- absolutely stunning. She approaches her role with such passion, her Claire becomes the star of the show. The cinematography is gorgeous: Italy is splashed with sunlight, and it helps the movie’s vibe enormously.
Although Letters to Juliet was marketed as a romantic-comedy, it’s refreshing in many ways. It’s light on the comedy (nearly no slapstick, thank goodness), with just the right amount of romance. I did tear up occasionally but it was no tearjerker like The Notebook. It was great to see a romance set outside of New York City (for the most part) because compared to the usual, glossy chick flicks, Letters to Juliet feels intimate and sincere. The movie doesn’t revolve around the relationship between Sophie and Charlie, leaving room to for audiences to connect with Claire’s story. And her story is a great one, even if it is a modern fairy-tale.
This may seem like a non-sequitur, but the movie made me ridiculously hungry. Just the sight of gelato- Italy itself is mouth-watering. And you know those never-ending bread sticks at Olive Garden? They may not be real Italian or all that filling, but are still incredibly delicious, warm, and real. Well, that’s Letters to Juliet. Bon appetit.