"Dreams feel real while we're in them. It's only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange." -Inception

Sunday, September 19, 2010

DVD Review: Letters to Juliet

Letters to Juliet is a charming little movie that asks the question What if? What if you got a second chance? Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is a fact-checker for The New Yorker who aspires to be a writer.  While on holiday with her fiance Victor (Gael Garcia Bernal) in Verona, Italy, she comes upon a group of women who call themselves the Secretaries of Juliet.  The courtyard of Juliet's house, of Romeo and Juliet, obviously, contains the lovelorn letters and pleas from people all around the world.  The women, the Secretaries, take it upon themselves to reply to the letters from Juliet assuring them that someone is listening.  Sophie herself finds a letter, long-lost about 50 years ago from an Englishwoman, Claire (Vanessa Redgrave) to apologize for leaving her Italian boyfriend, Lorenzo (Franco Nero).   

Sophie writes back to Claire and suddenly finds herself in a middle of an adventure when Claire returns, with her disapproving grandson Charlie (Christopher Egan), to tell Lorenzo she's sorry.  Thereupon, we are introduced to the gorgeous Italian countryside and piazzas as the characters go on a road trip to find Claire's Lorenzo.  There are some funny moments as they come across many Lorenzo Bartolinis but not the one they are looking for.  And of course, sparks do fly as Sophie and Charlie spend more and more time together.  Their journey, however, is remind themselves and the audience that it's never too late.  

Vanessa Redgrave and Fraco Nero are married in real life as well, and Roger Ebert has a great review on the film in which he talk about these great actors and their relationship.  Amanda Seyfried (Mamma Mia) turns in another fine performance as a lead.  Garcia Bernal doesn't have much to do in the film except to play the busy fiance but it was nice to see him in a non-serious performance.   Christopher Egan (Eragon) reminded me so much of a young Heath Ledger.  Maybe because he's Aussie?  Overall, Letters to Juliet was a nice escape to Italy for 101 minutes to wish we were there too.  

The Bonus features on the DVD show a generic making-of featurette about how the cast and crew enjoyed filming and working in Italy.  It showed it too.  But some interesting history about the film was revealed that they really are Secretaries of Juliet (the Juliet club volunteers) that actually write back to whoever writes to Juliet and how the whole tradition of visiting Juliet's house in Verona began.  The movie was based on a NY Times review of a book Letters to Juliet: Celebrating Shakespeare's Greatest Heroine, the Magical City of Verona, and the Power of Love by Lise Friedman and Ceil Friedman.  It just goes to show you, sometimes a story idea can hit you in the most usual way, reading the newspaper!  

Directed by Gary Winnick; Written by Jose Rivera and Tim Sullivan; Music by Andrea Guerra, Cinematography by Marco Pontecorvo; Edited by Bill Pankow

Rating:  (3 Dvds)

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