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LETTERS TO JULIET

SYNOPSIS:
In Verona on a pre-wedding honeymoon with her would be restaurateur fiancee Victor (Gael Garcia Bernal), Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) joins a small group of volunteers who respond to letters left for the fictional Juliet from Shakespeare’s romantic tragedy, Romeo and Juliet, seeking advice about love. Sophie happens on a letter written in 1951 by Claire Smith (Vanessa Redgrave), an Englishwoman who fell in love with a young Italian man but let the opportunity slip away. Inspired by Sophia’s reply, Claire now a grandmother, goes to Verona in search of her long-lost love- accompanied by her grandson Charlie (Christopher Egan). With Victor wrapped up in his culinary quest, Sophie, Charlie and Claire scour the beautiful Italian countryside in search of Claire's long-lost love.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
With her wide-eyed, vulnerable and sensitive face registering every emotion, Amanda Seyfried is the current go-to girl for romantic movies, especially, it seems, those featuring letters, like Dear John and now Letters to Juliet.

Gael Garcia Bernal makes a likeable if distracted Victor, so busy preparing for the opening of his restaurant back in New York, he can’t take his eyes off the Tuscan food and wine, rather neglecting his bride to be on their pre-wedding ‘honeymoon’ in Verona, the setting of Shakespeare’s love story, Romeo and Juliet.

So when Sophie wonders about Verona, she comes across Juliet’s House, and the daily pile of lovelorn letters addressed to Juliet, she is intrigued. She stumbles onto a letter that was written 50 years ago, by an English woman who regrets not having turned up for a rendezvous with Lorenzo, an Italian boy in the region when they had fallen in love and she was just 15. Sophie’s reply encourages Claire (Vanessa Redgrave) to come back to Verona and look for him, accompanied by her grandson Charlie (Christopher Egan in top form).

The scene is set for a tour of sunny Tuscany, occasional food and wine tastings and the fiery exchanges between Sophie and Charlie, while Claire warms to the romantic adventure she has undertaken – at some risk of disappointment. Would Lorenzo be old and decrepit? Would he remember her at all?

Vanessa Redgrave is wonderful as Claire, a charming, wise and warm woman who has lived a full life of happiness and sorrow, and who encourages Charlie to follow his heart, not wait 50 years like she has.

The double romantic payoff is beautifully directed and performed; it’s not just what but how it’s done in this satisfying escapist romance aimed at women, young or old.
First published in the Sun Herald.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

LETTERS TO JULIET (PG)
(US, 2010)

CAST: Amanda Seyfried, Gael Garcia Bernal, Vanessa Redgrave, Christopher Egan, Franco Nero, Lidia Biondi, Daniel Baldock, Milena Vukotic

PRODUCER: Ellen Barkin, Mark Canton, Eric Feig, Caroline Kaplan

DIRECTOR: Gary Winick

SCRIPT: Jose Rivera, Tim Sullivan

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Marco Pontecorvo

EDITOR: Bill Pankow

MUSIC: Andrea Guerra

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Stuart Wurzel

RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Hoyts Distribution

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 13, 2010







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