Amongst the mean girls alumni, I think Amanda Seyfried is probably the one who will do that group proud. We know how Lindsay Lohan has self-destructed of late with her partying antics and reported troubles on set of films that she has to be fired from, and Rachel McAdams has somehow faded away. Being a late bloomer, Seyfried has gone on from supporting roles to headlining romantic films such as Letters to Juliet, and it'll be interesting to note how her career will progress from this point on as the latest Hollywood It Girl to look out for.
Granted I was impressed by her acting chops in the rather unconventional role in Chloe that you'd expect an idol to try and avoid with a ten foot pole, but I suppose when given the opportunity to rub shoulders and star opposite veterans, will be too good a chance to pass up. Of late, she's starred opposite her contemporaries such as Megan Fox, and no prizes for guessing who actually came up tops despite being put in an unglam role. But more importantly she held her own against the likes of Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgård, Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore, and now, Vanessa Redgrave. I can imagine the sheer amount of pointers and lessons to be learnt by an up and coming actress from such illustrious veterans.
And as Sophie, the fact checker for The New Yorker, Seyfried's back in the comfort zone of being the wholesome girl next door type, which I thought probably didn't challenge her much, except to cement her as the sure-fire go-to girl for roles such as this one. Engaged for a year to an Italian restaurateur Victor (Gael Garcia Bernal), they take a trip to Verona on what's supposedly a pre-honeymoon, except that Victor's passion in setting up his new restaurant meant a tad bit of neglect as he trades romance with Sophie for more quality time with his would-be suppliers. With free time on her hands, Sophie chances upon the Secretaries of Juliets (think Santa's Little Helpers), who reply to letters left under Juliet Capulet's supposed balcony from Act II Scene II by women from all over the world. Translators and postage stamps are no issues as they become the ultimate agony aunt.
The Secretaries are portrayed quite uniquely in the film, and it's a tad pity that the story didn't dwell more on their personalities other than to give them cardboard ones, with each of them being specialist in their respective assigned areas to correspond based on the contents within letters. I'd half expected the team to be featured heavily in the film, but the arrival of Claire (Redgrave) and her grandson Charlie (Christopher Egan) took up the second act, where they embark on a picturesque road trip to seek out Claire's Italian love Lorenzo some 50 years ago because of Sophie's letter of encouragement, which is to Charlie's chagrin since it just undermines his entire family tree and existence.
You can more or less smell from a distance just how the film will then develop and end, with a shared mission to look for a lover from the past, and the budding promise of a new one emerging. Past experience with romantic flicks will likely take a lot of shine and credit off this one, although the lovers here do fulfill the requisite eye candy requirement, as well as wonderful chemistry as the characters find out that fate can play the cruel game once in a while, and it's back to good ol' Timing being the catalyst for relationships to begin or to fail.
There are some who expect their partners to be with them all the time, and there are those who expect plenty of freedom to do their own thing as well. It takes an open mind and an observant eye to understand this so that you won't be betting on the wrong horse so to speak, and this film pretty much sums this up as Sophie gets a tad frustrated with Victor's win-win statements, and the lesson of the day seems to preach the seizing of any moment that presents itself, and not wait. The finale is expected, though the way it revealed itself was a tad too convenient.
If you're a realist, then this film will not appeal to you, as its value proposition and unique selling point is the romantic fantasy of searching for one's true love whom you've lost contact with some 50 years ago, and having true love find you when you least expect it to. If you're a die-hard romantic, then it'll be perfectly up your alley as you soak up the atmosphere and cling onto hope in-between comedic montage scenes where the characters meet up with the wrong Lorenzos. Which one are you?