The film, Letters to Juliet, is the story of one letter written to the fictional Juliet Montague of Shakespeare’s play that is answered fifty years after it was written and what happens because of that reply.
The film is light and airy and made me want to visit Verona and especially Sienna, Italy. I wanted to drive those empty dirt roads, eat that food, drink that wine, walk those cobblestone streets. It seems like a very romantic place to go with my wife – who has been there already and still has relatives there.
I posted here earlier about the letter I wrote to to Juliet years ago.
In the film, the woman who wrote the letter 5o years ago, Claire (Vanessa Redgrave), returns to Italy because of the reply to find the boy she left behind.
It’s Italy but it’s Hollywood. Is it a spoiler to say that she finds him, they are both currently free and that they finally marry? I don’t think so. No more of a spoiler than it is to say that Romeo and Juliet both die and that the Titanic sinks. It’s a Comedy in the Shakespearean way.
The people are pretty, the scenery is pretty, the colors are beautiful.
Sophie, who accidentally finds the 5o year-old letter to Juliet and replies, is a fact checker at The New Yorker. She is in Verona on a prenuptial, quasi-honeymoon with her fiancé, Victor who is researching vendors for the restaurant he’s opening in New York. He’s so caught up in that process that he ignores Sophie, so you now that relationship isn’t going to work out.
Claire returns to Verona with her protective grandson Charlie and he immediately dislikes Sophie – which is a Hollywood and TV guarantee that they will fall in love.
The three of them set out to find the long-lost Lorenzo and the road trip makes up most of the film. There are many Lorenzos to sift through, but you know he will be found.
It’s predictable in a Hollywood way, but that didn’t really bother me.
I enjoyed my theater chair tourism. One of the aerial shots of Verona with its red tile roofs seemed to me to be a duplicate of the shot in the 1968 film Romeo and Juliet. I’d like to believe the town is very much like it was back then. I’d really like to believe it’s like it was when the real Juliet was on that balcony with her Romeo.
That’s Romance with the capital R.
It’s made for fans of Shakespeare’s play, Italy, even Anglophiles and Americans who have a fantasy expatriate life in their head. After all, I read about all that in Henry James and E. M. Forster.
It was nice to have it for 105 minutes. When my wife and I left the theater, I had a real craving for a glass of wine. We had one, on our Paradelle deck with the scents of mint, thyme, lavender and the other herbs from the garden in the night air. Nothing wrong with Romance.
Get in the mood…
Romeo and Juliet on the screen in the 1968 Zeferelli film version (Olivia Hussey & Leonard Whiting) and the Romeo + Juliet 1996 version directed by Baz Luhrmann with Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio.
A collection of some of those real letters to the fictional Juliet was the basis for the film Letters to Juliet: Celebrating Shakespeare’s Greatest Heroine, the Magical City of Verona, and the Power of Love
Mood music – The Juliet Letters CD by Elvis Costello