Letters to Juliet (PG)

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Review byMatthew Turner11/06/2010

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 105 mins

Despite a potentially decent premise, this is a disappointing romance, let down by terrible dialogue, poor plotting, severe miscasting, a charisma-free performance from Christopher Egan and a total lack of chemistry between its two leads.

What's it all about?
Directed by Gary Winick, Letters to Juliet stars Amanda Seyfried as Sophie, a fact-checker for the New Yorker who takes a pre-honeymoon trip to Verona with her excitable restaurateur fiance Victor (Gael Garcia Bernal). However, when they arrive, Victor seems more interested in sampling the local produce for his restaurants than spending time with her, so Sophie winds up at Juliet's house, where she's moved by the daily crowds of people leaving lovelorn letters pinned to the wall beneath the fabled balcony.

When she discovers that there's a group of women who personally answer all the letters to Juliet, Sophie befriends them and ends up answering a 50-year-old letter she finds behind a brick in the wall. And when the letter's British author, Claire (Vanessa Redgrave), shows up in Verona, accompanied by her reluctant and cynical grandson Charlie (Christopher Egan), Sophie asks to tag along as Claire searches for Lorenzo (Franco Nero), the true love she abandoned 50 years ago as a teenager.

The Good
Although Vanessa Redgrave doesn't seem to be trying all that hard, the film deserves points for casting her real life husband Franco Nero as Lorenzo. The scenery looks nice too.

The Bad
There is so much that's wrong with Letters to Juliet that it's hard to know where to begin. The script squanders a potentially decent premise by smothering it in atrocious dialogue – for example, the supposedly cute romcom-style banter between Sophie and Charlie feels so forced that it's actually painful to listen to.

It doesn't help that Australian Christopher Egan (presumably cast for his partial resemblance to Heath Ledger) makes a very unconvincing Brit, delivering a performance that is entirely charisma-free and failing to spark any chemistry at all with Seyfried. By the same token, Gael Garcia Bernal is ludicrously miscast in the unsatisfactory fiance role – ironically, there's more chemistry in their phone call scenes than there is in every single exchange between Sophie and Charlie.

Worth seeing?
The sweetness of the Redgrave / Nero romance and the gorgeous Tuscan scenery ensure that this remains watchable but the central relationship is badly written and doesn't work at all. Disappointing.

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Letters to Juliet (PG)
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Content updated: 15/12/2019 05:00

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