Movie: Letters to Juliet

Sophie (Amanda Seyfrie) reads fateful letter

Sophie (Amanda Seyfrie) reads fateful letter

A sweet romantic tale for young and old. Sophie,  played by Amanda Seyfried, is a fact-checker with the New Yorker, engaged to an exuberant enthusiast, Victor, who is about to open his own restaurant (Gael Garcia Bernal). They have decided to go on honeymoon to Verona before the wedding because, after it, all will be busy at the restaurant. For Victor, the alleged honeymoon is visiting vineyards, olive groves, cheese factories, wine auctions, to get the best produce for his restaurant. Sophie loyally tags along but wants to be with Victor and do the touristic thing, especially in the city of Romeo and Juliet. When she visits Juliet’s house and sees quite a number of sniffling and weeping women writing letters to Juliet and putting them on a notice board and a group of women, Juliet’s secretaries, answering them, she offers to help. She accidentally discovers a letter from Claire about Lorenzo written fifty years earlier and answers it.

Claire’s rather priggish grandson, Charlie (Australian Christopher Egan) arrives and takes an instant dislike to Sophie. He has unwillingly brought Claire to Verona to try to find Lorenzo. Since Claire is played by Vanessa Redgrave at her simplest and sweetest, a most engaging performance, we are drawn into the quest to find the romantic Lorenzo. After quite a number of encounters with all types of Italian men, Claire, Charlie, Sophie and we actually find him.  A most happy reunion and joy all round – except for Charlie who has (not particularly credibly) fallen for Sophie and Sophie who realises she must break with Victor and go back to Italy. Sophie and Charlie also have a mock balcony scene to remind us that there is no real battle between modern Capulets and Montagues.

And who should play Lorenzo but Franco Nero? With art imitating life (or was this the source for the plot of the film?), Franco Nero and Vanessa Redgrave were in a relationship in the mid and late 1960s – and, indeed, married in 2006. Looks as though the film’s wedding scenes were not acted – the love is real!  

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