Saturday 18 February 2012

Letters to Juliet

In "Letters to Juliet", Sophie, a fact checker with The New Yorker, flies to Verona, Italy with her fiance, Victor.  While chef Victor checks out the Italian cuisine for his American restaurant, Sophie spends her time sightseeing.  On a stroll to Shakespeare's Juliet House in a courtyard, she finds a wall with a loose brick where visitors leave letters to Juliet with questions about love. 

One of the letters, written in 1957 by Claire Smith from Britain, has remained unanswered.  Sophie takes it back to her hotel and carefully pens a response to Claire.  It turns out that the Englishwoman lived in Verona as a student back in the fifties and met a young man named Lorenzo Bartolini; they fell in love, but then parted ways when she returned to England.  Both married other people, had children, watched their families grow up, and then their spouses died.  Moved by the letter, Sophie invited Claire to come back to Verona.

In the meantime, Sophie researched the history of the wall of letters and found out that it dated back to the 1930's.  Originally, a male groundskeeper took it upon himself to answer each letter.  However, as the letters started arriving by the truckload, more letter-writers were needed.  The "Club di Giuletta" formed, composed of several women, all writing answers to the love lorn.

Back at the hotel, Sophie met the elderly Claire who arrived from Britain along with your grandson, Charlie.  Claire suggested that the two women search for her beau Lorenzo and so they opened the phone book and to their dismay found that there were several Bartolini's in Verona.  By process of elimination, they narrowed down the list.  One by one, they tracked down each Lorenzo and one by one they were disappointed to find out they had the wrong man. 

While travelling through the vineyards of Verona, Sophie strikes up her own romance with Charlie, although the latter is not so eager to find Lorenzo, worried that his grandma might be disappointed.  The trio is about to give up their search when Sophie suggests they have a glass of wine at a vineyard they pass.  All of a sudden she spots a young man who looks exactly like Lorenzo Bartolini:  he is the grandson of the long lost beau. 

Before you know it, Claire and Lorenzo are reunited and pick up where they left off in 1957.  Sophie's work is complete and she returns to New York with her fiance.  However, she still wonders about Charlie back in Britain.  A few weeks later, she is invited to Claire and Lorenzo's wedding.  Breaking up with her fiance, she flies to Italy to declare her love for Charlie.  At the nuptials, however, Charlie is there with a woman named Patricia, whom Sophie believes to be his ex-girlfriend.  Sophie runs off and Charlie follows.  Standing on a Romeo-and-Juliet-like balcony, Sophie listens while Charlie tells her that he loves her down below, explaining that Patricia is really his cousin.  Charlie climbs the balcony on a vine and they live happily ever after.

Here is a footnote to the Letters to Juliet plot, a case of life mirroring art.  Vanessa Redgrave, who plays Claire Smith, also met and fell in love with an Italian man decades ago.  His name was Franco Nero and they met on the Warner Brothers' set of "Camelot" in 1966.  They even had a son together, but parted ways.  Forty years later, Claire and Franco got married.  Franco plays Lorenzo Bartolini in "Letters to Juliet".

Photo courtesy

No comments:

Post a Comment