| A bronze statue of Juliet Capulet is located in the courtyard of the fabled star-crossed lover’s Verona home with the balcony made famous by William Shakespeare. It has been reported that half a million visitors, mostly female, make a romantic pilgrimage annually to this spot.
They touch the right breast of the shiny life-size replica wishing for good luck while posing for a photograph. They also leave letters in the wall asking Juliet for advice in matters of the heart. These handwritten missives find their way to an upstairs office where 15 self-appointed volunteer secretaries answer them.
A letter buried deep in the wall in 1959 is found by Sophie (Amanda Seyfried from “Dear John” and “Mamma Mia!”) Sophie is a fact checker for a New York City magazine. She is on a pre-honeymoon trip with her fiancé Victor (Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal from “Babel”).
Victor is more concerned with sampling the wine, cheese and bread for his soon-to-be-opening gourmet restaurant in Manhattan than spending time with Sophie.
Sophie, while sightseeing on her own in the City of Love, puts her writing skills to work answering the letter.
Claire (73-year-old Oscar winner Vanessa Redgrave from “Atonement” and “Julia”) is so moved by the line “true love has no expiration date” in Sophie’s response that she arrives from England a week later accompanied by her grandson Charlie (Australian Christopher Egan who resembles the late Heath Ledger).
The bulk of the movie’s 101-minute running time has this unlikely trio scouring the countryside looking for the elusive Lorenzo Bartolini, Claire’s long-lost lover.
This movie will remind viewers of “Mamma Mia!” without the songs. Italy stands in for Greece to offer breathtakingly gorgeous scenery that makes you want to book your next vacation there.
This romantic fantasy will appeal mostly to teenage girls and their mothers. The message that romantic love is timeless and crosses all generations rings true. This uplifting fable contains no profanity or sexual innuendos. It is slowly paced like a fine wine that takes time to breathe before each sip is savored. A lovely soundtrack of romantic tunes includes the title song “What If” and “Love Story” written and performed by Taylor Swift.
Seyfried is a real beauty and her star is definitely on the rise after adding this definitive chick flick to her resume. Redgrave is still a classy dame and steals every scene that she appears in. Bernal and Egan play second fiddle to the ladies.
The movie’s main drawback is the lack of chemistry between Seyfried and her two suitors. The movie fails to explain what caused Sophie to fall in love with the self-centered Victor in the first place. Although she doesn’t even have a ring, Sophie has been engaged to Victor for almost a year. Her relationship with an obnoxious Charlie gets off to a rocky start. One night lying in the grass together and looking up at the stairs miraculously changes everything.
The supporting cast includes Redgrave’s real-life husband Franco Nero.
This fictional story directed by Gary Winick (“Bride Wars” and “13 Going on 30”) with a screenplay penned by Jose Rivera (“The Motorcycle Diaries”) and Tim Sullivan about young love abandoned and then rediscovered decades later ironically mirrors that of Redgrave and Nero. The pair met on the set of “Camelot” in 1967, had a son Carlo, and went their separate ways until finding each other again and marrying in 2006.
Keith Cohen "The Movie Guy"