It is an unspoken rule that when a movie has a trailer that includes a man galloping through a vineyard on horseback, it's probably going to be a bit unrealistic and mushy. Letter's to Juliet not only meets that rule, but doubles it by cramming every romantic cliche possible into an hour and forty-five minutes.
Now, I can excuse a Romeo and Juliet reference here and there. I can even excuse the unoriginal idea of a girl caught between two guys. Unfortunately, these things are paired with other moments, including but not limited to: a guy feeding a girl pasta, a guy climbing up some ivy while delivering a love proclamation, a kiss while stargazing, an ice cream fight between lovers, and way too many balcony scenes to count. By the time a toast came along that referenced Titanic, all I wanted was the friggin' Taylor Swift song to be cued, so we could be done with it.
The movie follows Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), a fact checker for the New Yorker with dreams of becoming a serious writer. Sophie goes on a pre-honeymoon with her eccentric, Italian fiance. I know what you are thinking. What the hell is a pre-honeymoon? I don't know. I don't want to know.
Well, you know the rest… she finds a letter…blah blah blah…reunites old loves…blah blah blah…has to choose between two guys…
The predictable plot could have been salvaged by interesting characters. It wasn't. When Sophie isn't busy being boring, she can be found pouting in a corner because her boyfriend is more interested in cooking than in her. Sophie doesn't have the kind of quirkiness and spunk that romantic leads need nowadays (i.e. Zooey Deschanel in 500 Days of Summer). As if her utter lack of personality isn't enough to make you not like her, she proceeds to cheat on her fiance without regret or remorse. How charming.
Charlie (Christopher Egan) is Sophie's "other man" and companion on her journey to reunite old lovers. He is so unpleasant and grumpy that the moment he confesses his love to her, it is simply unbelievable. The writers make somewhat of an attempt to make him likable by insinuating deep down he has a heart of gold. But let's just get one thing clear; the fact that you work with refugees doesn't mean you're not a jackass.
The only good element in the movie besides the pretty Italian backdrop is Claire, played by Vanessa Redgrave. Her authenticity and ease at playing an elderly woman looking for her one true love is the only thing that doesn't seem forced. As the single most interesting character, it is clear that the movie should have centered around her story.
Redgrave's part in the film isn't enough to save it. The worst part of the film is the way the script plays out. It's all so easy. The climax of the movie is thrown away with the unoriginal "What? You thought she was my girlfriend? No. No. It's all a misunderstanding. That's my cousin!" mishap. It's clear that Letter's to Juliet was written by some old dudes that were too lazy to come up with anything original and decided on the cheapest way out every time. Yeah. I'm talking to you, Tim Sullivan and Jose Rivera. It actually made me feel insulted that I was your target audience.
I wasn't the only one insulted. I sat in the theatre with a girl whose boyfriend is in a war zone. On my other side was a group of elderly women desperately looking for a movie to relate to after their hopes were inflated by Mamma Mia… a chick flick just doesn't get an easier audience than that. When the infamous horse scene finally came around, I tried to hide my laughter to keep from disturbing the other viewers. It didn't matter. My lovesick friend was laughing. The couple in front of us were laughing. Even the Grandmas were laughing.
There are really only two reasons for seeing this film. First, you are a girl who likes an occasional sappy love story. Don't do it. Letter's to Juliet does not deliver. While movies like Slumdog Millionaire and Love, Actually lift you up with refreshing plot lines and intriguing characters, this movie brings you down with its mere mediocrity. You will leave the theatre feeling worse about your love life than you did when you went in.
Second, you are a guy that wants to score by taking a girl to a romantic movie. Again, don't do it. You will regret the $40 you spent on tickets and snacks and the two hours of life you wasted. Remember, you want your date to be cheap and easy, not your movie.