Movie Review: Letters to Juliet

The movie cover for the movie, Letters to Juliet, a movie diving deeper into Shakespeare’s classic, Romeo and Juliet.

The movie cover for the movie, ‘Letters to Juliet,’ a movie diving deeper into Shakespeare’s classic, Romeo and Juliet.



Whether you read Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in your ninth grade English class here at Montrose, saw a live performance during the Merry Month of May, or watched one of  the many different movie adaptations, it is a classic tale, the original inspiration for the genre “romantic movies.” For those of you who aren’t familiar with the plot, it’s essentially a romantic story of two star crossed lovers. In Gary Winick’s 2010 movie Letters to Juliet, we are introduced to a whole new dimension of the story and how in love we all are with Shakespeare and his timeless characters. 

Sophie Hall (Amanda Seyfried), a fact checker for the New Yorker, is engaged to an aspiring chef in New York City, Victor (Gael García Bernal). Victor and Sophie travel to Italy on their pre-wedding honeymoon to enjoy the romantic scenery of Italy and to explore new recipes, vendors, and restaurants for Victor to gain inspiration for his new restaurant in New York. When they arrive in Italy, all Sophie wants to do is sightsee. Unfortunately for the bride-to-be, Victor is only interested in his new restaurant. He forces Sophie to travel the countryside — tasting future wines, cheese, and other fanciful food items that will be featured on his menu. While Victor  discovers new items for his menu, Sophie decides that she will explore the beautiful, magical city of Verona, Italy — the setting for where William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet takes place.

Sophie discovers the iconic balcony where Romeo and Juliet profess their love for each other. Beneath the balcony on which Juliet stood, Sophie spots thousands of little notes, lengthy letters, or certain messages of hope in which many heartbroken or grieving women have written. These women have asked Juliet for her intercession to grant them their only wish: true love. The Secretaries of Juliet, the women who respond to these heartbroken lovers, answer thousands of letters each year. Being the inquisitive, amazing journalist that Sophie was, she knew that an article had to be written. Mrs. Whitlock would definitely approve of her journalistic curiosity! 

While Sophie and another secretary of Juliet, Isabella (Luisa Ranieri), take down the letters of the day to answer, Sophie finds a secret hidden letter that had not been discovered for exactly fifty years. Sophie is curious about the content the letters contained. These letters were written by Claire Smith (Vanessa Redgrave) , a young student at the time. She wrote to Juliet concerning the love she had developed for a man, Lorenzo Bartolini. Lorenzo had previously proposed to Claire but because they were so young and Claire had other endeavours she wanted to pursue, she left without saying goodbye. Claire looked to Juliet to comfort her pain and sorrow. Sophie feels a call to action to respond to Claire’s letter. Sophie does not know that she is agreeing to journey on the most important and exciting adventure of her life. 

When Claire receives the letter, she decides that she needs to travel to Verona with her handsome grandson, Charlie (Christopher Egan) and find her former love. Unhappy with his grandmother’s convictions, Charlie seeks Sophie out and lectures her on how she should not have responded to Claire’s letter. He says that she was perfectly happy and didn’t need to embark on this stupid journey. Ignoring his arguments, Sophie finds Claire and they discuss, along with the other secretaries, the particulars of her romance. Afterwards, Sophie asks Claire if she can join her and her grandson on their hunt to find Claire’s former lover. To her grandson’s disappointment, Claire agrees to let Sophie travel with them and capture their journey and reunion in an article for the New Yorker.

The cinematography is stunning.  Helen Olohan 24’ said: “My favorite part about the movie is the scenery because it’s just so pretty. Literally, because it’s set in Italy, it’s so pretty.”  Claire knocks on every door of seventy two Lorenzo Bartolinis. They traveled for many days, in different hotels and explored many different cities. Many of the Lorenzo’s they found were either dead, had changed address, or just didn’t look like the one Claire had remembered. Sophie, Charlie, and Claire were ready to accept defeat, but in the search to rekindle one romance, a new one emerged.

Seeing that I am an expert at romantic comedies, I knew from the start that Charlie and Sophie would develop a close relationship. Sure enough, through all of the tension and arguing, they started to develop feelings for each other on their journey. They explored these cities, enjoyed several meals with each other, and had their first kiss under the stars. Charlie knew that Sophie was engaged so he decided that he would not pursue this endeavour. Little did Charlie know that his decision would be one of the worst ones he ever made! 

On one of the last expeditions of their journey, Charlie, Sophie, and Claire discover two young men, both named Lorenzo Bartolini, working on a farm. Charlie and Sophie knew that both of them being named Lorenzo was not coincidental. Sure enough, as so many classic romantic movies go, the Lorenzo Bartolini Claire had been longing to find, rode in on horseback and embraced his love. After Claire and Lorenzo had been caught up on each other’s history, Sophie knew that it was time to depart. Charlie did not want to let her go, but he knew that he had to. As Sophie’s car was driving off, Claire expressed her sentiments as to Charlie’s stupidity. Charlie tried to follow her but discovered she was reunited with her fiance. He decided to let her enjoy her happy life with her future husband. 

When Sophie and Victor returned to New York, they both awaited the opening of Victor’s new restaurant. Sophie was also invited to Lorenzo and Claire’s wedding. Sophie visited Victor’s restaurant to tell him the good news, but again, the only thing he cared about was how perfect his pasta dishes were and how thinly his sauce was prepared. Sophie called the engagement off immediately, and left for Italy hoping to witness the marriage of a woman who became a mother-figure to her and her one true love and to profess her love to Charlie. When Sophie saw Charlie, he was with another woman and her feelings were crushed. At the reception, Claire and Lorenzo both spoke about how grateful they were to Sophie for reuniting them. Sophie was happy and appreciative of the sentiments but couldn’t bear to see Charlie with another woman.

When Sophie runs off, Charlie follows her. Next, when we see Sophie, she is on a balcony on Lorenzo’s farm. Earlier in the movie, Charlie remarked that, unlike the Romeo in The Bard’s classic, he would CLIMB the balcony, not stay on the ground as Romeo did. Helen Olohan 24’ said: “It’s really one of the only chick flicks I’m able to sit through and have a lot of fun watching!!” I agree, Helen. With COVID and all our hard work in the first quarter, let’s face it….we are all in need of escape. So activate your Netflix accounts, girls, and see for yourselves how THIS balcony scene ends for Sophie and Charlie.   


by Kate Novack ’24, Features Editor