Amanda Seyfried stars in her second romantic drama of 2010, but thankfully Letters to Juliet isn't based on a Nicholas Sparks novel. The movie is still utterly predictable, but focuses on a more interesting subplot than audiences are used to.
The previews for Letters to Juliet made the movie out to be incredibly bland and cheesy, but it avoids most of the typical pitfalls associated with the genre - while still delivering the romance woman want. The movie stars Seyfried as Claire, an aspiring writer who goes on a vacation to Italy with her fiance (Gael Garcia Bernal). While he gets distracted by Italian food (he owns a restaurant), Claire meets the secretaries of Juliet, a group of women who respond to relationship advice letters left at the wall of a famous later, and finds a love letter written 50 years ago. She responds and kicks off an adventure of self discovery. The British woman who wrote the letter (Vanessa Redgrave) - now an old widow - arrives with her handsome-but-conceited grandson (Christopher Egan) to find her lost love Lorenzo and apologize for abandoning him all those years ago. Along the way, Claire and the grandson discover they have more in common than she first thought.
With the emphasis on the search for Lorenzo, Letters to Juliet doesn't have time to waste on cliché romantic plot points. The movie is about rekindling past relationships and accepting blossoming new ones rather than the dull ups-and-downs of a young couple. Most importantly, the conflict isn't forced; the young couple isn't even a couple until the end so there's no big breakup two-thirds through that the characters have to resolve.
As refreshing as Letters to Juliet is, it's still predictable and basic in its delivery. The characters are simple and you can see the finish line during the opening credits. Director Gary Winick (Bride Wars) also fails to take advantage of Italian scenery; the movie lacks a distinctive look and feel.
Still, the chemistry between Seyfried and Egan is pretty good, even if Egan isn't particularly notable other than he looks like the late Heath Ledger. Seyfried is good but not extraordinary; her character got on my nerves a few times. Redgrave is entertaining, though she isn't asked to do a whole lot.Letters to Juliet isn't spectacular, but it's more original than most movies in its genre. Had the directorial style not looked like every other movie it could have been unique. As is, it's a perfectly acceptable and enjoyable romantic drama.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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