An American girl on vacation in Italy finds an unanswered "letter to Juliet" -- one of thousands of missives left at the fictional lover's Verona courtyard, which are typically answered by a the "secretaries of Juliet" -- and she goes on a quest to find the lovers referenced in the letter.
I've found that most movies that fall into the category of "romantic comedy", "tear-jerker", or "chick-flick" employ the same overused, cliched formulas. Most lack any originality and use the same cheap methods to coerce a laugh or a cry.
One of the reasons "Letters to Juliet" is a good movie is because it doesn't take the cheap route. It's an entertaining, well written story brought to life by a strong cast and some really solid direction.
The story is nothing too deep and is a little predictable but it's also not a lame rehash of other movies of it's kind. The story is made all the more interesting by some really good acting. There isn't a bad performance to be found in the film and this is another thing that separates it from other films in it's genre. Take "The Last Song" from earlier this year. It was a weak movie that was brought even lower by some really bad acting.
"Letters to Juliet"s cast is on an entirely different level from the starring roles all the way to the smaller supporting parts. Seyfried is good in the lead but it's the graceful, exquisite Vanessa Redgrave whose elegance is shown in each scene she has. Her experience and talent shows in a truly great performance. Christopher Egan is also very good and as I watched him I couldn't help but make comparisons to a young Heath Ledger. Franco Nero, Redgrave's real-life husband, is brilliant and has such a screen presence. His scenes shared with Redgrave are some of the movie's best.
Another huge plus is the solid direction from Gary Winick. Scenes are shot beautifally and I found myself immersed in the various Italian locales. Whether it's the visits to Verona and Sienna or the Italian countryside, the gorgeous art direction and amazing cinematography is something normally not seen in these types of films.
Now the movie does have a couple of scenes that are sappy, cliched, and completely out of place. But as a whole "Letters to Juliet" is a smart, intelligent film. It's warm, tender and sometimes quite funny. Also it's a clean movie that anyone can enjoy. "Letters to Juliet" is a film that actually give me hope for these types of movies.