May 10, 2010

Juliet's Secretary


The film adaptation of the book Letters to Juliet: Celebrating Shakespeare's Greatest Heroine, the Magical City of Verona and the Power of Love is a light and breezy romantic comedy. Perfect for Mother's Day.

Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is a fact checker at The New Yorker magazine, hoping to become a full fledged writer. She and her fiancé Victor (the yummy Gael Garcia Bernal) take a pre-wedding vacation in Verona. The distracted Victor, a restaurateur and chef, predictably leaves Sophia to wander the city on her own. She visits the fictional house of Juliet Capulet, where people have been leaving love notes for many years. Sophie meets the members of the Juliet Club who have faithfully answered the letters. She finds an old letter from Claire Smith (the luminous Vanessa Redgrave) and decides to respond. Pretty soon, they are on a road trip to find Claire's long-lost love, Lorenzo. They are begrudgingly accompanied by Mrs. Smith's skeptical and pompous grandson Charlie (Christopher Egan (who physically reminded me of Heath Ledger/Matt Damon/Ryan Phillippe/Joseph Gordon Levitt).

The movie is a grand travelogue through the spectacular vistas of Italy. One can pretty much deduce how the story ends. But the film's high point is Ms. Redgrave. I started crying the moment I saw her in Juliet's courtyard, in front of the famous balcony. (Just the sight of her made me think of her dear departed daughter Natasha Richardson. And then I started thinking of Lynn and Corin Redgrave.) Her Claire is wise, funny and optimistic. Yet one feels that she is afraid of what she'll find but not letting herself get downhearted. When she said "Life is the messy bits", I really felt for her.

Ladies, I expect you'll have fun with Letters to Juliet. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll get a dose of Hollywood romance. The movie officially opens 14 May.

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