With Amy Adams getting all pregnant and Drew Barrymore having become Ms. Big Important Director, Amanda Seyfried (“Dear John”) — with her trademark Kewpie-doll eyes and blandly pouting lips — has officially taken over the chick-flick market. This month’s poison? “Letters to Juliet,” a film about love and soulmates and not much else.
“Letters to Juliet”
At Quality 16 and Rave
This time, instead of fondling Channing Tatum in Iraq or chumming with Meryl Streep in Greece, Seyfried plays Sophie, a soon-to-be-married busybody American journalist looking for her first big scoop and her first big adventure as she vacations in Verona.
Enter the bright-eyed Claire (Vanessa Redgrave, “Atonement”), who 50 years ago, wrote a “letter to Juliet” asking the Shakespearean heroine for advice about running away with her Italian love, but ended up standing him up. Because nobody loves a project like Sophie, she and Claire traverse the Italian countryside looking for Claire’s Lorenzo Bartolini, with her cynical grandson Charlie — played by Chad Michael Murray lookalike Christopher Egan (“Eragon”) — in tow. As the trio knocks on door after door of horny old Italian men, the bigger question at hand is: When the hell are Sophie and Charlie going to get together?
“Juliet” attempts to fill in a level of realism missing in today’s saccharine-sweet romances, trying for dialogue and actions that deviate from the predictably flawless teeth and perfect foot pop that frequent this genre. But repeatedly tugging down at a shirt or leaving palpably pregnant pauses between words is not the way to go — it’s just tedious. Watching Seyfried and Egan awkwardly bumble through their lines is painful and uncomfortable, making the film seem far longer than its run time.
And what’s worse, “Juliet” further attempts to stuff every romantic cliché within the confines of its slender storyline: the Englishman with a stick up his ass, but a heart of gold, the self-serving journalist out to get the scoop on the perfect story, the American finding love in a foreign country, the leftover feelings of abandonment from a parent long departed, the old folks spouting wise banalities because they just have so much life experience and, of course, the exotic countryside as the catalyst for love.
Verona is a beautiful city full of history and scenery, but its shallow depiction in this film is about as generic and half-assed as its story. In short, “Letters to Juliet” is a veritable puppet show of love and grief, as predictable and insincere as — well — any romantic comedy that has come out in the past ten years. Eye-rolling has never been this boring.