"Letters to Juliet" DVD, Blu-ray Movie Review

9/15/2010 Posted by Admin

"Letters to Juliet" 

DVD, Blu-ray Movie Review

Directed by Gary Winick, written by Jose Rivera and Tim Sullivan.

By our guest blogger, Joel Crabtree

Gary Winick's "Letters to Juliet," just out on DVD and Blu-ray disc, is full of so much hokey material that it's no wonder the movie attracted the "Bride Wars" filmmaker. Much like Winick's previous effort, "Juliet" barely rises to the level of a made-for-TV movie.

Amanda Seyfried plays Sophie, a hopeless romantic who works as a fact-checker in New York. Her true passion, however, is writing. Sophie's clueless fiance Victor (Gael Garcia Bernal) also has a passion--cooking. He thrusts it upon the submissive Sophie in every frame. Bernal takes his character's passion a little too over-the-top, oohing and aahing with every single bite of food or sip of wine. He's too good of an actor for the material.

Victor's new restaurant consumes so much of his time that the couple agrees to take a "honeymoon" in Italy before the wedding to fit Victor's schedule.

While in Verona, Victor continues to neglect his fiancee while scouting various food and wines for his new business, pushing Sophie to go sightseeing on her own. While browsing around the city, she finds herself at Casa di Guilietta, the purported home of Juliet Capulet of "Romeo and Juliet" fame. It's one of Verona's most visited sites — a tourist trap where love-sick foreigners post letters to a fictional character.

Needless to say, Sophie is fascinated with the site. When a woman comes to collect the letters, Sophie follows her with curiosity to the headquarters of the "Secretaries of Juliet" — a group of oldish Italian women who answer each letter. Sophie finds inspiration in the team, re-igniting her passion for writing.

While helping to gather the letters, Sophie finds one that had been wedged between bricks for 50 years. She can't help but reply. Claire (Vanessa Redgrave), the letter's author, returns to Verona along with her grandson Charlie (Christopher Egan, who falls totally flat) in search of her Lorenzo — and of course Sophie joins in the hunt.

From there, "Letters to Juliet" grinds two of my least-favorite genres together, creating a roadtrip romantic comedy. Luckily, the movie is set in Italy, with landscapes that not even the most inept filmmaker could ruin. Granted, "Letters to Juliet" doesn't even come close to "The Talented Mr. Ripley's" beautifully photographed Italy — but nevertheless, it is Italy.

While on the trip through the scenic countryside, we find about a dozen Lorenzo Bartolinis — each one meant to be funny in his own way. They're not. But the many Lorenzos aren't nearly as repulsive as the script's stale, melodramatic one-liners about love — most of which come from Sophie and Charlie's opposing views and forced chemistry.

One of the only saving graces of "Juliet" is Seyfried. She plays Sophie with a giddy, childlike zest that nobody else — especially Egan — can match. Egan's bitter Brit feels completely contrived and uninspired. Redgrave's Claire, on the other hand, is in a movie all her own. Something reminiscent of "The Bucket List." No, that's not a compliment.

But can you blame these actors? It's impossible to get excited about such cardboard roles from writers Jose Rivera and Tim Sullivan. These two need to write to Juliet ASAP to rediscover their love for writing — if they ever had it.

Grade: D+

Below is the trailer for "Letters to Juliet."  What are your thoughts?

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