“Letters to Juliet” exceeded my expectations because it offered a dual story line that gives it more depth. On the one hand, you have Sophie Hall, a young twenty-something, played by a new and fresh face to Hollywood, Amanda Seyfried (“Mamma Mia,” “Dear John”). Sophie is a fact checker for a New York City newspaper but has the desire to become a journalist someday. Sophie is currently in love and engaged to Victor (Gael García Bernal), a pasta chef, who wants to open his own restaurant. On the other hand, you have Claire (Vanessa Redgrave), an older woman in her ’60s who lost her love, Lorenzo, and has come back to Italy to find him. These two stories merge into a beautiful masterpiece.
The story begins when Sophie & Victor go on a pre-wedding honeymoon/business trip (for Victor’s future restaurant endeavor) to Verona, Italy. Upon arrival, we see Sophie and Victor testing different wines and cheeses, much to Sophie’s disinterest. When Victor expresses that he needs to go to a wine auction in Laverno, Sophie grows disappointed that this honeymoon is turning into much more of a business trip than that of a honeymoon. It is at this point that they split ways and do their separate things on their honeymoon which Victor calls this a “win-win” for both of them. Sophie seems less than thrilled.
As Sophie goes sight-seeing alone, you are left with a sense of sadness. But, she quickly learns to enjoy herself alone, so much so that she does not even miss Victor, which makes her question their relationship. During one of her sight-seeing adventures, Sophie stumbles across several emotional women putting notes in the cracks of a wall, and then a lady later taking the letters down. Sophie follows this lady and finds several women who are writing response letters. These ladies tell Sophie that the women placing letters in the wall are “writing letters to Juliet” (which is this group of women who write back), hence the movie title. Sophie decides to help them, and this is when she discovers a 50 year old letter written by “Claire” to “Lorenzo” hidden deep in a crack in the wall. This is when the real story begins.
Sophie takes it upon herself to write Claire back. Upon receipt of this letter, Claire’s grandson, Charlie, shows up and expresses contempt with this stating that it has sparked his grandmother’s interest in finding Lorenzo again. Later, Sophie “ironically” stumbles across Claire and Charlie gazing at the wall. Coincidence? Maybe. But, without this, there would not be much of a story line. At the wall, Sophie and Claire meet, and Claire says she is there to look for Lorenzo in Sienna. Sophie tags along to much of Charlie’s chagrin. With Sophie’s fact-checking skills, she discovers there are 74 Lorenzo Bortellini’s in the Sienna and surrounding areas.
It is through this journey of finding the right Lorenzo, that there are several humorous moments as they meet a vast array of crazy characters… all named Lorenzo Bortellini, and all but one being in the later years of life which is a bit unrealistic, but makes it more humorous. It is also through this journey that Sophie and Charlie start to grow fond of each other. He becomes less of a jerk that originally got pleasure out of making fun of her American phrases and into more of a gentleman. Throughout the movie, we see Sophie juggle her thoughts over which man to choose as she begins to fall for Charlie.
[Am I having déjà vu, or does this seem reminiscent of the “Twilight” series and other similar love stories where the girl has to choose between two guys? But, I digress.]
The ending to “Letters to Juliet” is full of sweet moments, but is a little cliché and predictable in more ways than one, including the music selection: Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” (which is about “Romeo & Juliet”) which only seems appropriate given the name of the movie. I am not a fan of “spoiler alerts” because as much as a person may not want to know the ending beforehand, how many of us actually skip the spoiler alert? We don’t, but then we kick ourselves for being so curious and ruining the whole thing. As such, I will leave you with this: husbands and boyfriends, bring your wives and girlfriends to this movie. While it could classify as a “chick flick”, it may actually surprise you, and as much as you won’t want to admit it, you may find yourself actually liking it. But, that’s our little secret.