Starring Amanda Seyfried and Vanessa Redgrave. Rated G. Opens Friday, May 14, at the Park Theatre and the Cinemark Tinseltown
In Letters to Juliet, Amanda Seyfried plays Sophie, a fact checker for the New Yorker. She yearns to be a writer, though, meaning she needs the kind of formulaic adventure that Hollywood serves up as life experience.
Watch the trailer for Letters to Juliet.
Sophie is engaged to excitable Victor (Gael García Bernal), and they take a premarital trip to Italy to gather things he'll prepare in his Manhattan restaurant. In sun-kissed Tuscany, the increasingly irritable Sophie is forced to try rare wines and desserts and is almost lured into hunting for truffles. Oh, the suffering! Oddly, Victor doesn't mind when she decides to go it alone.
A chance encounter in Verona introduces her to local busybodies waiting for a translator, although they speak perfect English. Apparently, women write notes to Shakespeare's Juliet and leave them outside the alleged Capulet home in a wailing wall for the romantically peeved. Sophie discovers an ancient letter from a woman who, 50 years on, turns out to be Vanessa Redgrave sleepwalking through an easy role.
The widowed woman is soon back in town, along with a rude, brittle grandson who instantly detests Sophie. He's played by bland Australian Christopher Egan, but in the old days, it would have been Ralph Bellamy. Now we're asked to root for the bore when we don't really care who ends up where.
It wasn't safe to rest everything on Seyfried, the young star whose acting ranges from A to very nearly B. Her catlike eyes flutter but never rest on anything. And while furiously scribbling in her journal, her grumpy character offers no intriguing observations. Somehow, it all works out. I'd like to be that kind of “writer”, too, but I don't have the legs for it.