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Angry Amy Goes to the Movies

If I can roll my eyes at approximately one revolution per second, then my baby blues would need to be about 6,300 times as big to make it through the 1 hour 45 minute giant eye roll of a film they call Letters to Juliet.
Starring one of my favorite actresses, Amanda Seyfried (of Big Love and Mean Girls fame), I went into this movie thinking that despite all my spent energy trying to hate chick flicks I would, once again, get sucked into some sort of sappy, touching story. Or at least I thought that I would fall in love with the idea of the characters falling in love because I like the actress so much. But, alas, none such saving graces on this one.

The film follows typical chick flick suit with the story of Sophie (Seyfried), an under-confident but career-minded woman in a bad relationship with a man who pays her too little attention. They go on a pre-wedding honeymoon (eh?) to Italy, where Sophie discovers a statue of Shakespeare's Juliet to which hundreds of young women flock in order to weep uncontrollably while writing her letters about their love lives. For reasons beyond my comprehension, the Italian government (or whoever is supposed to be the financier of this whole operation) pays a group of women to sit around all evening and write responses to all of the letters, leaving me wondering, is there is really no Italian equivalent of Dear Abby or Loveline or even that 90-year-old grandma who shows us how sex toys work on late night cable TV?! But the plot gets a little more far-fetched from there. Sophie finds a 50-year-old letter to Juliet and writes back to the woman, who is not only still alive, but still living at the same address as when she was 15 and makes it down to Italy within what seems like a day (or at least a short enough time-span for it to be well within Sophie's vacation time). Sophie, Claire (Vanessa Redgrave) and Claire's grandson, Charlie (Christopher Egan) then set out to find Claire's long-lost love.

The film had all of the elements to make a good romcom but instead just fell flat. It tried to incorporate some humor, but the timing was so off that things I would normally have had a childish giggle at just weren't doin' it for me. For example, as Sophie is discovering the statue of Juliet and looking around to find ridiculous, sobbing 20-somethings writing furiously in their journals, we see some tourists grabbing the boobs of the Juliet statue. Pretty hilarious, right? Well, it would be if it weren't for the pseudo-revelation Sophie is in the midst of having for some reason and the complimentary swelling instrumental music signaling a serious moment of personal discovery. Maybe it's one of those meta jokes where I'm supposed to be laughing at how ridiculously made that scene is instead of finding the actual content of the scene funny. I'm just giving myself a headache now.
The movie also tried to make good, relate-able characters to suck the audience in, but I was left feeling a little short changed. Between Seyfried's hint of a British accent sneaking in and out and her unchanging "acting face" - consisting of 50/50 mildly confused and slightly offended - I must say I felt like she just wasn't giving it her all. Then there was the extremely slow and touchy-feely Claire, who was supposed to be the sweet grandma type but just came off as super creepy. She kept kissing Sophie on the head and cheeks, and even visited her hotel room one night in just a low-cut robe to brush Sophie's hair. I gazed at the screen with my jaw to the ground at how inappropriately sexual it was for a half-naked 65-year-old acquaintance to brush a young woman's hair in the dark and tell her that there is nothing better in life than to have your hair brushed while the young woman cries uncontrollably.

Finally, Letters to Juliet tried hard to incorporate a twist on an old concept, but once again came up short. While the plot had a lot of potential for new takes on old ideas, it played it pretty close to the vest when it came to branching out plot-wise. Forgive me if I give away the ending, those of you who actually expected anything unpredictable from this flick, but I will begrudgingly give you the customary *spoiler alert* at this point. In the end, Claire finds her true love -- also still alive and still interested in his 15-year-old crush. *Disclaimer* (I really feel like the writer could have aimed for a more realistic time-gap between the letter getting written and responded to than 50 years because either you don't give a sh&% about your teenaged lover anymore after 50 years or you are waaaaaaaayyyy too old for anything to happen again if it is your mid 20-something lover). Sophie realizes that she doesn't love her fiance and travels back to Italy to be with Charlie.

Who is Charlie, again? Ok, I realize that you might be reading this review and think that I am doing a bad job of both reviewing and keeping up on the plot at the same time, but I must assure you that this is completely in sync with the film. Charlie is the relentless jerk, who throughout the whole film objects to his grandmother's quest for love without good reason. Rather than having some sort of "come to Jesus moment" where he realizes that love is worth pursuing or something of that nature, Charlie and Sophie have an out of nowhere romantic connection that goes underdeveloped in the story but somehow is enough to drag her back to Italy later.

Of course, no film entitled Letters to Juliet would be complete without a gratuitous balcony scene. I know that when I am upset about a boy and running away from a situation, my first instinct is to climb up a random stand-alone brick building on an Italian vineyard and stand on the balcony only a few feet away from a large crowd of wedding guests. And thus ends the film Letters to Juliet. There is a hilarious misunderstanding about Charlie dating his cousin who has the same name as his ex, but all is fixed in formulaic fashion and everyone is happy. Then we end with a gratuitous Taylor Swift song with the lyrical refrain "Marry me Juliet!" Get it? It has the name "Juliet" in the chorus...

Predictable, this film definitely is. A plot-twist or comedic highlight, this film is not. I loves me a good RomCom or chick flick, but it must definitely show me something beyond the formula. Sorry, Letters to Juliet, but you get the Angry Amy disapproval!

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  1. Blogger qualler | 11:28 AM |  

    Man, that is a way longer and more thoughtful review of this movie than the movie probably deserves. Well done, Lady Amy.

    Amanda Seyfried used to be one of my favorite actresses, but her roles in garbage like this, and her character's weak demise (not her fault, I know) in Big Love has kinda put a kibosh on that.

  2. Blogger chris | 2:51 PM |  

    That Taylor Swift song is THE BEST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Blogger Papa Thor | 7:26 AM |  

    I surfed over wed morning and there was no Lady Amy! Ahh! I finally came back after a long weekend and here it is at last, so I hope it's not too late to comment:
    Two things about that Amanda S: I mentally pronounce her last name like the villain in "Get Smart" and her misproportioned face with buggy eyes is creepy. We were almost going to see that movie but instead went to see "Babies." Angy Amy, if you saw "Babies" it would melt your anger away ... or would it?

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