Letters to Juliet is a movie is about “giving love a second chance”. Amanda Seyfried, current go-to Hollywood actress for melodramatic chick flick-type roles (read: Mamma Mia, Dear John) stars as Sophie Hall, an aspiring writer who goes on a “pre-honeymoon” trip to romantic Verona, Italy with her fiancé and aspiring restaurateur Victor (Mexican dreamboat Gael Garcia Bernal). Upon their arrival, however, Victor immediately goes off in search for the best food supplies, leaving his disappointed fiancée to wander the streets by herself.
She stumbles upon the house that Juliet Capulet (as in “Romeo and Juliet”) supposedly lived, which sees throngs of lovesick women from around the world flocking there to tack love notes on the wall asking “Juliet” for advice. A chance discovery of a letter dated 1957 from an English woman, Claire (a beautifully aged Vanessa Redgrave in a heartfelt performance), leads Sophie to write back to her about the possibility to reuniting with her long-lost love, and lo and behold, Claire arrives in Verona before the ink has dried, with her cynical grandson Charlie (Chris Egan) in tow. As the trio embarks on a road trip to find Claire’s Romeo, Sophie finds herself rethinking her own love life.
One can’t help but feel that this came across as more of an extended travel advertisement for Verona rather than a movie—the dialogues don’t hold much water, the chemistry between the leads weak, and the script playing heavily upon flighty what-ifs, stolen kisses and serendipitous occurrences as bases for “true love.” Sure, these are entirely probable ingredients in real- life romances, and audiences choosing to watch this movie are probably looking for a piece of escapism rather than realism anyway, but whatever happened to giving love a second chance through old-fashioned effort and commitment? Still, this is a borderline decent watch, especially with the beautiful shots of Italian landscapes and Redgrave’s performance—the screen legend simply steals the show in every scene she appears, even when placed alongside the far younger Seyfried.