“Letters To Juliet”
At one level, leaving letters from the lovelorn stuck in the wall of a
courtyard in Verona, Italy, that is supposed to represent the fictional
balcony in Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” is beyond pitiful.
This is the modern version of an altar to the goddess of love, Venus:
petitions for success to an imaginary icon, vaguely resplendent in
folklore but having no basis in reality.
Ah, but we’re not dealing with reality here, we’re dealing in
romance, which means that all rationality is out the window---or, more to the
point, off the balcony.
Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is an all-American girl who visits the famous
non-historical landmark because her fiancé Victor (Gale Garcia Bernal), with
whom she is supposedly vacationing, is very distracted.
It seems he’s trying to open a gourmet restaurant back home, and is
utilizing some excellent opportunities to learn the local vineyards and become
acquainted with some of the renowned chefs.
It seems that every time she tries to talk to him, he has to take
another phone call. Finally, she
just lets him pursue his business research, because she has become enamored of
a romance herself.
It seems that she finds an old letter, stuck behind one of the bricks
in the wall beneath the famous balcony, written years ago by a young Claire
(Vanessa Redgrave) about her lovely Lorenzo, whom she met while a student in
Verona. Sophie, having met some
self-appointed “Juliets” who actually answer the letters stuck in the
wall, answers this letter herself, which brings to the scene no other than
Claire herself Claire is accompanied
by her foppish, fastidious grandson Charlie (Christopher Egan), who as the
only rational person in the entire film, thinks this whole quest is complete
silliness. But Claire, now allied
with Sophie, quixotically search for the lost Lorenzo, hoping to recover that
long-lost spark of youthful romance.
Have you ever attended a high school reunion and searched the
not-quite-familiar faces for some glimmer of the young person who used to
reside in there, and whom you still might recognize, if you concentrate hard
enough----a glimmer in the eyes, the curve of a smile, a certain hand gesture,
the tamber of voice, the unique expression?
Somehow we remain who we are, buried under all our wrinkles and sagging
and distending. And all of us who
are real romantics (read: ridiculous) hope along with Claire that she will
instantly recognize her handsome Lorenzo, and he will still be charming and
dashing, and will recognize her instantly, and sweep her up in his arms, as if
he has been waiting for her return all of his life.
(Hey, how can you have a chick flick without Prince Charming?
He actually rides in on a galloping steed!)
Charlie, meanwhile, mostly forgets to be charming to Sophie, but
somehow she finds herself falling for him anyway (go figure).
Maybe negative attention is better than none.
Victor, to his credit, at least honestly proclaims to her that he is
who he is, and if she isn’t enamored, well, he’s not going to promise to
If we root for Charlie and Sophie’s rocky relationship, we are indeed
incurable romantics, but if we weren’t, we wouldn’t be watching this film
in the first place, would we?
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, Grace