When it comes to advice regarding romance, my first choice would not be a teenaged girl who eloped with her lover, faked her death and then killed herself when she discovered her lover had died. “For never was a story of more woe / Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.”
Apparently, my view is not shared by thousands of women around the world, who mail letters to Juliet or leave them posted to the wall of a 17th century house in Verona, which is known as Casa di Giulietta (Juliet’s House). The film Letters to Juliet weaves this custom into a fictional account of one such letter and the young woman who finds it.
Amanda Seyfried is Sophie, an American tourist whose fiance is more concerned with meeting suppliers for his new restaurant than in spending time with her during their vacation in Italy. Sightseeing on her own, she finds Casa di Giulietta and watches a woman pull letters off the wall at the end of the afternoon. Sophie follows her to see what she does with the letters and discovers that a group of women volunteer to answer them, dispensing advice to lovers young and old.
Sophie joins them and finds—and answers—a 50-year-old letter hidden behind a loose brick in the wall under Juliet’s balcony. When Claire, the ever lovely Vanessa Redgrave, receives this reply, she drops everything in England and immediately flies to Italy in search of her long lost love, Lorenzo. Accompanying Claire is her stuffy grandson Charlie, played by Christopher Egan.
To say the plot is predictable would be an understatement, but the golden views of vineyards and tiled roofs make it a mildly pleasant, if clichéd, cinematic jaunt. While there’s not much heat between the young couple, Claire and Lorenzo (Franco Nero) generate a few sparks during their short time together on screen.
I looked up Nero on the internet to show my daughter a photo of him and Redgrave as Lancelot and Guinevere in the movie Camelot. To my surprise, I discovered that the actors really were a hot item in the 1960s and have recently become a couple once more. Now that’s a story worth a love letter or two.
Although the custom of sticking letters to the wall of Casa di Giulietta sounds charming, people often use chewing gum or post-it notes, both of which are damaging the building. Read more about Verona moving the letters to Juliet to a new location.
Film Friday: Let me know whether you give Letters to Juliet your stamp of approval.
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