Letters to Juliet
by Sawyer J. Lahr
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There is a reason Vanessa Redgrave comes first in the publicized synopsis for Letters to Juliet. She gives the only good performance as one side of a long lost love affair restored with an inspiring letter that sparks a journey to find true love, at least for Redgrave. Her escort on the search is her waddling grandson Charlie (Christopher Egan) and stranger Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), a young fact-checker for the New Yorker who’s on a “pre-honeymoon” with her self-involved fiance played by Gael Garcia Bernal. Victor and Sophie are a mismatch that discredits her personal integrity. Sophie’s husband-to-be is more successful than she is, and he’s invested in something a Spanish man strangely but truly loves: Italian cooking.
The piecemeal story might be an indication of what’s left of the writers’ careers. What is a pre-honeymoon anyway? Seyfried’s cowering cat-eyes would be better killed off in another Diablo Cody horror film. When you look like an American girl doll, growing up on screen requires a talent like Vincent Minnelli who finally turned Judy Garland into a woman on screen in The Clock (1945).
Coincidentally or not to reality, Redgrave is like a mother to Seyfried’s character. Acting opposite to her husband Franco Nero - the long lost love - she appears to be playing the mother she once was to her recently deceased daughter Natasha Richardson (The Parent Trap).
I felt there was some potential in Seyfried’s performance, but it was hard to pin point. I could only try and fail searching for characteristics of actors like Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday. The writers forgot that romance could be integrated into plot and not wrapped up conveniently between the most unlikely of young actors. In her search for another woman’s lost love, Sophie settles for anyone that isn’t her fiance.
Sawyer J. Lahr is Chief Editor of the forthcoming online publication, Go Over the Rainbow. He also writes a monthly film column for Mindful Metropolis, a conscious living magazine in Chicago, IL.
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