Since the 1930’s Juliet (Romeo’s ex) has been sent thousands of letters from lovesick women all over the world. More notes are pinned by visitors to the cobbled wall in the courtyard where the fated couple nurtured their clandestine love. This sounds like a quite charming idea for a romantic comedy but unfortunately, after the first ten minutes, all charm evaporates and after another ten I started to wonder how Shakespeare would feel about an inept scribe taking his Juliet’s name and screwing up the dialogue. I bet he’d be furious.
Sophie and her fiance go to Verona for a pre-wedding honeymoon. Sophie visits the courtyard, finds a letter that has been trapped behind a stone in the wall for fifty years, written by a fifteen year old girl. In the letter the girl asks Juliet if she should stay with her poor Italian lover or obey her parents and leave. Sophie writes back to her, the recipient turns up with her grandson and the three search for grandma’s ex. Exciting stuff, huh? And in case you’re wondering what happened to the fiance, he went off to buy some wine at an auction. How’s that for piling on the jeopardy?
To add to all this pointlessness, there is not an iota of chemistry between any of the characters so the only component left is conflict and as this is supposed to be a romantic comedy it has to be between Charlie, the grumpy grandson, and Sophie. Charlie-boy makes his first appearance at Letter Writers HQ and he is pretty darn annoyed with Sophie, which he shows by keeping his face in a severe scowl. It is the oddest acting I’ve ever seen. Further demonstrations of the director’s inability to direct is Sophie and her ever-brimming eyes. I know it’s not that big a deal but it’s moments like this that make you dig your nails into your palms and the next thing you know you’re down a nail extension.
Everything in this film is contrived and/or lame, the most memorable of which is when Charlie introduces a girl to Sophie and forgets to mention it’s his cousin so, needless to say, Sophie thinks it’s his girlfriend. I know this is technically a spoiler but I can guarantee you’ll have walked out by now so it doesn’t really matter.
The final five minutes in this film pay homage to the previous hundred. Charlie walks towards a balcony (yes, really); Sophie appears, teary-eyed; a climbable tree comes into focus; up he goes. As the lovers iron out their final, idiotic misunderstanding, I realized that a few more minutes of this twaddle and I’d be ready to down that poison chalice myself, Romeo waiting at home or not.
Running time: 103 mins (seems longer)
Release date: 14th May, 2010
Directed by: Gary Winick
Written by: Jose Rivers & Tim Sullivan
Starring: Amanda Seyfried (Sophie), Christopher Egan (Charlie); Vanessa Redgrave (Grandma)
Producers: Applehead Pictures
Distributors: Summit Entertainment