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Letters to Juliet starring Amanda Seyfried
Letters to Juliet, directed by Gary Winick and released in 2010, shares a delightful romantic tale. The writers Jose Rivera and Tim Sullivan created a wonderful well written script that combined with the expert acting of the entire cast plus the professional work of the rest of the movie crew delivered a movie well worth the 1 hour and 45 minutes spent watching. This is one PG romantic-comedy movie anyone, men and women, can enjoy; great for couples to view together.
The setting of this film: gorgeous Italian surroundings including historical Verona are a fabulous travel treat. Letters to Juliet is something any director and producer would be proud to release. It is filled with warmth, compassion and situations that could happen in real life. The plot is timeless yet modern, set in present day New York City and Italy.
The main character Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), a Fact Checker for the New Yorker Magazine in New York City, is believable as a career woman in the writing field who has a passion to become a writer. Sophie is affianced to a Chef named Victor (Gael Garcia Bernal) who is obsessed with creating the best traditionally made Italian food for his high class restaurant in New York City. Sophie's boss, New Yorker Magazine Editor Bobby (Oliver Platt), regards Sophie as one of his best Fact Checkers, yet does not discourage her from writing. He tells her if she ever writes a good enough article, he might publish it.
The plot and subplot offers unique situations that could have happened. The movie allows its viewers to watch several relationships take their separate courses. The audience through this medium feels what Sophie goes through. Most of us know people like her fiancé and how difficult it is to have a relationship with his personality type; someone who is distant due to a work obsession and seems to need no one. This movie was so well done that I felt Sophie’s pain when Victor made their vacation in Verona, Italy a business trip where he is off and running with suppliers; making deals for his restaurant's food so he can claim his ingredients come directly from Italy. I understood why Victor left Sophie alone in Verona sightseeing. It was a matter of good business, had nothing to do with Victor’s personal life that Sophie and he shared.
Sophie, disillusioned by Victor’s lack of wanting to be with her during their Verona, Italy vacation, like most aspiring writers, decides to make her vacation a facts gathering one with hopes her boss will print the article she plans to write about her trip in the New Yorker Magazine. Sophie is determined to enjoy her vacation. She is delighted to be in the beautiful ancient Verona, Italy. Sophie is well acquainted with Verona's history and the William Shakespeare romantic tragedy set in Verona titled Romeo and Juliet . Sophie notices the numerous beautiful balconies that probably inspired the well known sixteenth century playwright William Shakespeare to set his two “star-crossed lovers” in Verona. She loves Verona’s friendly ambiance.
Sophie’s on her own vacationing leads her to an alcove where Shakespeare's famous character Juliet Capulet's statue is. The women are seated writing letters; most crying as if their hearts are breaking. Sophie confused by this unusual circumstance watches these teary eyed women finish writing letters and posting them on a specific wall next to the statue. Some of the letters are in envelopes, others are folded in half or fourths. Sophie wonders why the women seem happier after they stick their individual letter to this particular wall. She tries to ask one of the women (Ivana Lotito), but the young maid only speaks Italian; rambles in sobs that Sophie cannot understand. Sophie decides to stay and write in her journal what she is witnessing while attempting to figure out what is happening.
This decision propels Sophie into a world of a beautiful Italian tradition where people write letters to Juliet Capulet for advice; mostly about matters of the heart. Sophie through her perseverance to get to the bottom of the reason behind posting the letters on the wall, ends up befriending the Secretaries of Juliet a group of women hired by the City of Verona (Luisa Ranieri, Marina Massironi, Milena Vukotic and Luisa De Santis) who mail back a response to the letters found on the wall in Juliet Capulet's behalf.
Sophie, immediately loving what the Secretaries of Juliet do, spends time with the Secretaries of Juliet. Her helping collect the letters leads her into a marvelous letter discovery behind a loose brick. The letter is 50 years old and its contents are about a true love lost because the woman who wrote the letter made a regrettable decision; wanted to know from Juliet if what she did was wise or foolish. Sophie asks if she can on Juliet's behalf write the response letter to Claire from England. The Secretaries of Juliet, being swamped with letters to answer, encourage her to write it.
This reply letter Sophie has written is mailed to a 50 year old address which generates the most unexpected result. Sophie’s written words encouraged the widowed Claire (Vanessa Redgrave) to return to Italy accompanied by her grandson. She wants to meet with the person who wrote the response letter to thank them for their kindness. Claire also, after reading Juliet’s reply, decided to locate her beloved from 50 years past. She wants to know if her beloved had a happy life in spite of her decision not to elope with him and a chance to apologize.
Claire’s grandson Charlie (Christopher Egan), who is opposed his grandmother’s reasons for being in Italy, solely locates the surprised Secretaries of Juliet. They are delighted Sophie’s reply letter reached the intended person. The address was 50 years old and the odds for delivery were astronomical. Sophie readily dislikes Charlie. She does not care for how he bluntly chastises Sophie for writing Claire. Sophie readily dislikes his biases toward Americans; lumps them in a negative stereotype. Sophie finds him ill-mannered when Charlie rudely insists Sophie should have minded her own business instead of writing a reply letter.
When Sophie asks where and how Claire is, Charlie admits he came to Verona, Italy with his grandmother. He tells all of the Secretaries of Juliet and Sophie that he has told his grandmother not waste her time meeting with them. He makes it crystal clear to Sophie that she does not deserve the thank you Claire wants to bestow. Sophie regards Charlie as impertinent and mean. She wants to meet the Claire who wrote the 50 year old letter. Sophie wants to know more about Claire and her beloved’s story. She discreetly follows Charlie who attempts to shake her, but is able. Sophie is rewarded with meeting Claire, a charming polite sophisticated elder woman.
After Claire shares her reasons behind wanting to locate her beloved, Sophie readily offers her help. This kindness precipitates Sophie with the grudging assistance of Charlie literally on a scavenger hunt for Claire's beloved Lorenzo Bartolini, her love from 50 years ago. Sophie's Fact Checker skills impress Claire who is extremely grateful for Sophie's assistance. Charlie drives the three of them from one address to another as Claire and Sophie sift through the numerous Lorenzo Bartolini that are within a certain radius of where Claire knew Lorenzo fifty years past, near Verona and surrounding areas. Charlie points out, upon noticing how many Lorenzo Bartolini there are, that Lorenzo’s name is as common as John Smith in this section of Italy. He tries to discourage Claire and Sophie from their “wild goose chase of a man.”
Sophie ignores all of Charlie’s negative antics for Claire’s sake. Her eagerness to share in Claire's adventure of searching for her Lorenzo brings into her vacation a chance to be helpful in something important. She sees through Claire's determination the importance of experiencing true love and happiness. The more time she spends with Claire and Charlie, the more Sophie learns who these two people are. Sophie learns that sometimes men who come across obnoxious, discourteous and unromantic are in actuality the opposite; first appearances can be deceptive.
The time spent with Claire and Charlie in search of Lorenzo assists Sophie to face Victor as he truly is and come to terms with their vacationing completely separate. Claire further teaches Sophie about real true love. How nice it is to experience the kind of love that makes a person cross oceans, search for days or climb balconies to be with their beloved. Sophie, like most women, hopes will all her heart to someday experience this type of true love. She doubts, like many, of ever finding it. Claire explains motherly to Sophie that true love enters one’s life when a person least expects and has given up having it in their life.
The rest of the plot deals with Sophie making very important decisions in her life. These decisions include her love life and the most important one is not made in Italy. It is made after Claire returns with Victor to New York City and her article sharing Claire’s story about how Claire was reunited in Italy with Lorenzo after being separated for 50 years was published in the New Yorker Magazine. Claire’s world is on a success high. Unexpectedly, Claire receives an invitation to a wedding in Italy. This gives her the courage needed to end her rocky relationship with Victor. Sophie wants the kind of relationship Claire had with Lorenzo, one with true love and happiness.
The movie does not end with Sophie breaking up with Victor. She does attend the wedding stag. For the rest of the ending please view Letters to Juliet. The actual ending is the kind a person does not want to miss. It is fabulously endearing and heart-warming.
The rest of primary cast (in order of credits) included: Marcia DeBonis (Lorraine, Sophie's co-worker Fact Checker and friend), Giordano Formenti (Viticoltore, Victor's supplier in Italy), Paolo Arvedi (Signor Ricci, Olive Farmer in Italy), Dario Conti (the Cheese Supplier near Verona, Italy), Lidia Biondi (Donatella, mother of Maria and cooks meals for the Secretaries of Juliet), Franco Nero (Claire's Lorenzo Bartolini), Ashley Lilley (Patricia), and Hilary Edson (New Yorker Magazine Receptionist).
Highly recommend Letters to Juliet ! This was an excellent piece one can watch over and over; without tiring. For all who are Amanda Seyfried fans, this movie like Mama Mia! and Red Riding Hood are a "must see." All three films show the versatility of Amanda Seyfried's flawless acting skills. Adore, like I, the renowned movie star Vanessa Redgrave? This movie reminds all why people go out of your way to watch Vanessa Redgrave's great performances. Letters to Juliet is one movie you will want to see and be ecstatic that you did.