One-time indie ace Gary Winick’s Letters to Juliet, typical of his Hollywood efforts, features a down-the-middle, batting-practice speed pitch just waiting for audiences to take a big swing at it.
Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is a lowly but dedicated fact-checker for The New Yorker dreaming of writing for the magazine one day. She’s engaged to a passionate chef (Gael Garcia Bernal) who is about to open a new restaurant just weeks before their marriage.
The two take a pre-honeymoon trip to Verona, an all-work affair for him, which leaves Sophie time to play around in the lives of others.
She hooks up with the secretaries of Juliet, a lonely-hearts collective that pens responses to the lovelorn letters sent to star-crossed lovers.
Sophie gets swept up in the half-a-century tale of unrequited love between a British woman (Vanessa Redgrave, lovely and regal) and the man she gave up for her proper life that produced her off-putting grandson Charlie (Christopher Egan), who might be the answer to Sophie’s unwritten missive to Juliet. The recipe is pure whine and cheese, but Winick has taste and sense enough to trust his key spices — Redgrave and Bernal — to give the familiar stew a little kick.
With Letters to Juliet, he’s attempting to instill a bit of European flavor into this American dish. Grade: C-