When I met my husband, and found out he wrote reviews, I never pictured myself writing as well. I had never really played with the concept, other than some short stories. But here I sit, once again, in front of my computer screen with another disc in front of me. And what do we have this time? A romantic comedy. Yes folks, I love the torture. I was asked to do Letters to Juliet as a favor for my busy husband who is adjusting to his busy new job. This has to land me home made waffles in bed sometime in the near future. But was this one really that bad? Could there be a decent romantic comedy out there? Meh, we shall see. And away we go!
We open the movie with a scene of busy New York (A very nice skyline picture I might add). We meet Sophie Hall (Amanda Seyfried), a fact checker for the New Yorker, on her way around town. She stops in at her office to turn in a piece of work on the famous “V-J Day in Times Square” picture (The sailor kissing the nurse), and that’s where we find out she is on her way to Verona for a pre-honeymoon. She leaves the office and heads over to a restaurant that looks to be in progress. Meet Victor (Gael Garcia Bernal), Sophie’s very Italian fiance, who is in the kitchen surrounded by pasta hanging everywhere. And when I say everywhere, I mean it. A little bit of chatter, and away to Verona!
It is pretty clear that Sophie and Victor are not on the same page about why they are in Verona. Victor is completely obsessed about finding things for his restaurant, while Sophie wants to see the sites and have a romantic kind of happy time. Sophie agrees to let him go on his merry way, while she goes on about hers. On a stroll she finds the supposed house of Juliet Capulet. There are all these people in this courtyard crying and writing letters, and posing with a statue of Juliet. She is intrigued and sits down with her journal to find out what happens to the letters at the end of the day. She follows a woman back to an office, where she meets the “Secretaries of Juliet”, a few women who take it upon themselves to write back to the letters left on the wall.
She comes back the next day to help take the letters down, and finds a 50 year old letter stuck in the wall. The writer of the note is a woman named Claire who fell in love with Lorenzo. They decided to meet at a special place, and run away together, but Claire never showed. She wrote Juliet to ask for her help as to what to do. Sophie is drawn to the letter and decides she will write the woman back. A few days later, a man shows up at the office for the secretaries of Juliet. Everyone, meet Charlie (Chris Egan)! A very upset grandson of Claire. He blames Sophie for his grandmothers journey to Verona, and leaves the office pretty angry. Sophie follows him, and here we meet Claire (Vanessa Redgrave) standing by the wall. Sophie introduces herself, and takes her to meet “Juliet”.
At a dinner with the secretaries, Claire tells them she is there to find her Lorenzo. She has come all the way from England, with her grandson, to find him. Charlie of course believes this is crazy, and would prefer to go back home. When the night comes to an end, Claire and Charlie leave, and Sophie follows. She catches up with Claire to ask if she can tag along to help her find her Lorenzo, and that she would like to write a story about her journey to find him. After a bit of fuss from Charlie, Claire agrees whether he likes it or not. In the morning, they start their journey to find the elusive Lorenzo. Does she find him? What ever happened to Victor?
I imagine if you have seen the previews of this movie you already know how it goes. But I will not spoil it for anyone. The movie is surprisingly enjoyable. Lots of good shots of the countryside. The acting is pretty good between the characters. I actually laughed at Victor. His character is pretty funny, even though you can predict what is going to happen to his character about 10 minutes into the movie. I also liked Claire’s character quite a bit. She is what I can imagine a typical Grandmother is like. I also felt like I was following two stories here. One with Claire, and one with Sophie. While the story with Sophie wasn’t terrible, it was predictable. So the draw here is definitely Claire’s story.
The video is presented in 2.35:1 Widescreen at 1080p resolution. Most of the film is shot in Italy (Oh really?) and the results are breathtaking. The countryside looks fantastic and it might be as close as some of us will get to the fabled country. Colors are lavish, the buildings and fields have wonderful detail. There are some scenes that get a little too bright but this is a very pleasant disc to watch where darks and lights work together beautifully.
Audio is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English (Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 track also included). The first thing you will notice when you press play on the main feature is the music that chimes in. It was refreshingly crisp and clear. Once the intro music calmed down, the dialog never needed adjusting and everything flowed together wonderfully. Some of the Italian accents did take some getting used to, but most people should have little issue here. Subtitles are provided for English SDH and Spanish (surprised they didn’t include an Italian track, it’s a beautiful story in any language).
- Previews: The Ghost Writer, RED, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, Remember Me
- Commentary with Amanda Seyfried and Director Gary Winick: I am not a fan of commentaries. They are often boring and the people always repeat things we either know already or don’t really care to know. This one was no different. It was mostly talk of technical lighting issues, weather issues, or aspect ratios. Oh and don’t forget, they filmed this in Italy… they will mention that at least 50 times. The only moderately interesting point was that the scene with all the pasta draped all over the place… most of it was rubber bands. Oh and the director has a rubber band fetish.
- Deleted/Extended Scenes: Two deleted scenes, which would not have brought anything to the story, and 6 extended scenes. The 6 extended scenes were mostly just one line they dropped off. Not really much here.
- The Making of Letters to Juliet in Italia: Pssssst! You there! Yeah you! The one falling asleep in the front row! Did you know that they filmed Letters to Juliet in Italy? Really? Did you know that already? Oh you didn’t hear them say it a million times in the commentary? Well now here is a whole 8 minutes of them telling you that they filmed in Italy.
- A Courtyard in Verona: Pretty interesting little tidbit about how the legend of Juliette came about. How the courtyard was built, who built it up, and a little about the real secretaries. Not bad, wish they had focused a bit more on this.
I came into this movie with a negative attitude, because it was after all, a romantic comedy. I dreaded putting the movie in, but this gal is glad she did. I was pleasantly surprised to find just a feel good kinda sappy movie. It wasn’t filled head to toe with all its sappiness. It was just all around kinda nice. The funny parts were actually funny. And to be honest, this movie would have never made it without Vanessa Redgrave and Franco Nero (who REALLY reminds me of “The Most Interesting Man in the World”, I was just waiting for him to whip out a bottle of Dos Equis and tell me to stay thirsty). I listened to the director rave about Amanda Seyfried, but she did not make this movie, Redgrave and Nero did. The scenery is amazing, and the way they did some of the shots were breathtaking. All combined with a few quirky characters and a cute story. Good movie to rent for a night in with the old ball and chain…. I mean… significant other. Yeah. Totally what I meant.
A Reviewers Comments About The BluRay/DVD combo discs… They suck. Seriously. I haven’t seen one yet that you didn’t have to play around with for at least 10 minutes to get some feature to work. In this case it was the commentary. I could not get it to work from the main menu at all. It just looped the background of the main menu a bunch of times and did nothing. Not only that, you can’t get back the menu or anything. So I had to keep reinserting the disc, and was forced to watch the same previews over and over again (Come on, you would be upset if you had to watch Robert Pattinson on your screen with his terrible acting over and over again. This disc was from Summit, and we all know who their poster child is.). Luckily I have a husband who has dealt with the same issue (The Ghost Writer was a combo disc), and he directed me to another way to get to the commentary. But what a pain!