Making the Grades
Her own love life is also a mix of sentiment and sensibility. Engaged to Victor (Gael García Bernal), an up-and-coming chef about to open his own restaurant, Sophie books a pre-wedding honeymoon in Italy knowing he will be too busy for a holiday once the new business gets going.
Unfortunately, she neglects to foresee how distracting a country full of fine food will be for the passionate cook. So while he goes to vineyards and wine auctions, she goes sightseeing, starting with a visit to a courtyard in Verona where Shakespeare's legendary Juliet was supposed to have lived. While there she witnesses modern day star-crossed lovers leaving letters addressed to Juliet about their tales of woe.
Because Sophie has secret dreams of being a journalist, the investigative reporter in her takes an interest in what happens to this correspondence. Discovering each note is answered by a group of advice givers who call themselves Juliet's secretaries, the young American asks if she can write a story about their job. The task becomes even more interesting when Sophie finds a fifty-year-old letter and is allowed to craft a reply to its author.
Although she speculates about what may have happened to this Claire Smith over the last half century, she is surprised when the now elderly woman (Vanessa Redgrave) shows up chauffeured by her grandson Charlie (Christopher Egan). Inspired by Sophie's response, Claire has decided to search for her long lost "Romeo", much to Charlie's chagrin. Excited about their quest, Sophie asks if she can join them.
As the trio sets out on this scavenger hunt, they find different things than what they went looking for, like varying views on life, love, sorrow and unrequited dreams. Along the way Sophie starts questioning the strength of her own affection and how much she has in common with her fiancé.
While Letters to Juliet plays out exactly as expected, it is a pleasant journey across the beautiful countryside of Italy. And there are only a few potholes to concern parents. These include frequent depictions of drinking (but never to drunkenness), an implied sexual relationship between the betrothed couple, portrayals of kissing, mild profanities and terms of deity used as expletives, as well as one crude sexual finger gesture. Despite these bumps, the story offers the hope that love truly can survive, despite life's many detours.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Letters To Juliet.
Claire met the man of her dreams when she was only fifteen and hasn’t seen him in the last fifty years. Do you think such a young woman could really have been experiencing true love? How much change do you think is likely to occurred to these two individuals over half a decade of living? How much do you think they will have in common if they meet again?
Sophie believes in true love and destiny. Do you? Can a person only fall in love once? Is such an experience controlled by fate or choice? How does her perspective of her own romantic relationship belie what she is preaching?
What were the reasons Claire gives for not following her heart as a teenager? What feelings drive her quest now? Why do things that might have been have such a power to haunt us?
Claire’s grandson Charlie says picking up a relationship with a man one hasn’t seen for fifty years allows you to skip "all the messy bits." The older woman quips back, "Life is the messy bits." What do you think she means? Do you agree with her?