Letters to Juliet...it’s a chick flick thing.
Not to mention shamelessly manipulative, and boy does it know it.
Whether viewers are willing the drink form the fairy floss flavoured Kool Aid will be determined during the opening credits, as a slick pop song plays over illustrated images of kissing lovers.
Last year’s Couple’s Retreat also opened in similar fashion. What followed from there was mostly drivel, and here is no better.
Amanda Seyfried (she of similar in tone claptrap Mamma Mia!) stars as Sophie, a fact checker for the New Yorker magazine, who travels to Verona, Italy for a pre-wedding vacation with her self-centred restaurateur fiancé Victor (Gael Garcia Bernal, trying to make the most of a limited part).
As Victor preoccupies himself with Italian cuisine, Sophie is left to explore the sights and sounds of Verona. Among them, the infamous balcony where Romeo whispered sweet nothings to Juliet in Shakespeare’s eternal romance.
Now a site for broken hearted women to spiel the frustrations of their love lives via a letter pinned to a brick wall, Sophie is moved to find a sealed envelope which has been unanswered for over 50 years.
When the aspiring writer brings it upon herself to send a reply, it prompts the return of its author, elderly English rose Claire (Vanessa Redgrave).
Thus begins a mostly shallow and predictable road trip romance as Sophie, Claire, and her grandson Charlie (Chris Egan) search for Claire’s long lost love from one picturesque Italian locale (the films saving grace) to another, plowing through a succession of elderly Italian studs who share the same name as Claire’s love.
That Letters to Juliet features two love stories for the price of one, yet still manages to leave viewers ripped off, proves it to be an emotionally pretentious and calculable fluff piece, which does not build upon its interesting concept, nor respects its viewers who, by now, deserve better from filmmakers telling romantic stories.
Men in particular will find it a hard watch to sit through. Only with Egan’s stuffy English man can blokes relate, as he puts up with the films irritable faux romanticism and Seyfried’s gooey eyed optimism and grating self consciousness.
Yet even Egan’s constant cynicism, as spoken through a bad accent, can’t help but irritate.
Brief moments of true emotion are washed away by a wave of over sentiment. In the end all director Gary Winick can offer is cliché character development and cop pout resolutions.
Chick flick fans will no doubt gleefully swallow it whole. Others will have to settle with a bitter aftertaste.