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12:36 AM Thu, Oct. 18th

Reel Watchers: Letters to Juliet

If you've seen the trailer, you might assume that "Letters to Juliet" has all the characteristics of a frothy romantic comedy: visually appealing, amusing but dim, fraught with mediocre acting at best.

However, unlike others of the genre, this film is more than a mildly satisfying, cheesy pizza with a cardboard crust. It is a glass of fine Italian wine - a full-bodied film with warmth that lingers.

Starring Amanda Seyfried (Dear John), Australian actor Chris Egan and Academy Award winner Vanessa Redgrave, it follows aspiring writer Sophie (Seyfried) on a pre-wedding trip to Verona, the setting of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Neglected by her fiancé, Sophie joins a group of volunteers who respond to letters to "Juliet" written by the lovelorn. Her response to a 50-year-old letter once written by Claire (Redgrave) is the catalyst for an enchanting and heartrending quest to recapture true love.

The film is well paced, never lingering too long on a plot point nor rushing to its romantic climax. Under the direction of Gary Wynick, Seyfried's portrayal of Sophie is luminous yet painfully impassive until her character's change of heart. Claire's cynical grandson Charlie (Egan) serves as Sophie's worthy opponent in some clever verbal sparring. Though hardly Hepburn and Tracy, together they are charming.

The only thing more breathtaking than the film's cinematography is Redgrave's exquisite portrayal of Claire. As her character searches for the true love she abandoned, every expression, every gesture, every line Redgrave lovingly delivers draws you into a warm embrace and never lets you go. Redgrave's husband, Italian actor Franco Nero, plays a small but key role.

This film is for anyone who has ever sought, found, or made the mistake of abandoning their one true love. I give "Letters to Juliet" four out of four Miners.