From its opening montage of Hallmark-worthy kisses to a climactic clinch under the Tuscan sun, Letters to Juliet celebrates synthetic sentiment. Less concerned with exploring or exemplifying romance than with fetishizing it, the movie’s an extended ditty on behalf of hollow notions: If you believe in destiny, true love or minoring in Latin at Brown University, clap your hands.
While holidaying in visually manicured Verona with her fianc, Victor (Bernal), aspiring writer Sophie (Seyfried) discovers a hideaway where women answer lovesick letters addressed to Shakespeare’s Juliet Capulet. She joins in, replying to an unearthed, 50-year-old missive written by an English girl, and thus inspiring widower Claire (Redgrave) to visit Verona in search of her lost love.
Victor—first seen declaring, “I’ve reinvented the noodle!”—is almost a parody of the Bernal type: a hyperactive, sensualist chef, foreordaining Sophie’s gravitation toward Claire’s blond, bland grandson. It’s a fantasy that prizes availability over ambition and British urbanity over Latin passion. Equipped with a curvy figure and Goldie Hawn’s vast trapezoidal grin, Seyfried is a marvel to look at but has little to do aside from keep her anime eyes watered and soulful. Nonetheless, Redgrave classes up the joint: With one passing blush, one knowing smile, she turns pat sentimentality into something genuinely moving, and nearly makes the malarkey ring true.—Eric Hynes
Watch the trailer