Mr. Movie

'Letters to Juliet' delivers as chick flick

Verona, Italy is the home of Shakespeare character Juliet’s balcony.

From below Romeo expressed his undying love. Women from all over the world, many with broken hearts, leave letters for Juliet at the site. Sophie is an American want-to-be journalist who finds one that has been stuck behind a brick for 50 years.

-- Local show times, theaters, trailer.

Sophie is stuck with a self-absorbed fiance and though it is unspoken, you get the feeling she’s not quite sure he’s the right guy. They’re in Verona on a pre-marriage honeymoon. Instead of romance and togetherness, he drags her to events and places that will help him get his new restaurant started.

She's bored and decides to write an article on the balcony in hopes it’ll get her a gig writing for her publication rather than just being its fact-checker. A bit of research locates Clair who — accompanied by her overprotective grandson Charlie — goes with the story-sensing Sophie to find long-lost love Lorenzo.

Parts of Letters to Juliet work. Tracking down Lorenzo is fun. Amanda Seyfried (Dear John) plays Sophie. She is a likable and natural young actress with a bright future. Her chemistry with co-star and acting legend Vanessa Redgrave is wonderful.

The lives of the two women intertwine. Clair let the love of her life go, and Sophie — who falls in love with the grandson — is about to make a similar mistake. This is where Letters to Juliet takes a wrong turn. Christopher Egan’s Charlie is a stretch, and there is little chemistry between he and Seyfried.

Their story just isn’t that interesting, and it is so predictable.

Gael Garcia Bernal — who plays Sophie’s self-absorbed fiance — gives the film’s best performance. His completely shallow character is also the film’s deepest. At least you really get to know him. Everyone else is seen on the surface. But that’s not a surprise. This is a straight-ahead chick flick and they rarely offer surprises. If you’ve seen the trailer, you’ve seen the movie.

Letters to Juliet is love Italian style in cliche chunks. However, even with a third act that is way too long, for what it is, Letters to Juliet works.

Mr. Movie rating: 3 1/2 stars

Rated PG-13 for mature themes. It opens Friday, May 14 at Regal’s Columbia Center 8 and at the Fairchild Cinemas 12.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself.

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