A classic Shakespeare story and a vibrant sun-kissed Italian countryside provide a picturesque backdrop to the sweet romantic confection 'Letters to Juliet.'

The movie stars the ubiquitous Amanda Seyfried as Sophie, a fact-checker at the New Yorker who yearns for something greater in life. While on an Italian getaway in Verona with her fiancé (Gael García Bernal), Sophie stumbles upon a 50-year-old letter of unrequited love addressed to Shakespeare's titular star-crossed heroine. The letter is one of thousands asking advice, which are answered by "the secretaries of Juliet." This misplaced missive prompts Sophie to get in touch with the writer, Claire, now a widow (Vanessa Redgrave). Sophie, Claire and Claire's irritating yet irresistible grandson Charlie (Christopher Egan) embark on a sun-kissed adventure under the Tuscan sun to reunite Claire with her long-lost Italian amore.

Directed by Gary Winick from a script by Jose Rivera and Tim Sullivan, a major selling point of the movie's cross-generational appeal fall firmly on the shoulders of Oscar-winning actress Redgrave and those gorgeous Italian vistas.

But did the critics find 'Letters to Juliet' bello, or brutto? Read what they had to say: A classic Shakespeare story and a vibrant sun-kissed Italian countryside provide a picturesque backdrop to the sweet romantic confection 'Letters to Juliet.'

The movie stars the ubiquitous Amanda Seyfried as Sophie, a fact-checker at the New Yorker who yearns for something greater in life. While on an Italian getaway in Verona with her fiancé (Gael García Bernal), Sophie stumbles upon a 50-year-old letter of unrequited love addressed to Shakespeare's titular star-crossed heroine. The letter is one of thousands asking advice, which are answered by "the secretaries of Juliet." This misplaced missive prompts Sophie to get in touch with the writer, Claire, now a widow (Vanessa Redgrave). Sophie, Claire and Claire's irritating yet irresistible grandson Charlie (Christopher Egan) embark on a sun-kissed adventure under the Tuscan sun to reunite Claire with her long-lost Italian amore.

Directed by Gary Winick from a script by Jose Rivera and Tim Sullivan, a major selling point of the movie's cross-generational appeal fall firmly on the shoulders of Oscar-winning actress Redgrave and those gorgeous Italian vistas.

But did the critics find 'Letters to Juliet' bello, or brutto? Here's what they had to say:

Entertainment Weekly: "So shamelessly dreamy that not only does flaxen-haired Sophie (Amanda Seyfried, kissed by the camera), an aspiring writer with a mismatched fiancé, find true love on the sun-dappled back roads of Tuscany, but she also gets published in The New Yorker! On her first try! ... Director Gary Winick and cinematographer Marco Pontecorvo fit together the fate-tossed stuff of mass-appeal love stories and the seductive imagery of travelogue vacation movies so smoothly that the sequel to 'Letters to Juliet' might well be 'Letters to Orbitz': Find me a flight to Verona!"

Associated Press: "The doomed heroine of 'Romeo and Juliet' is the nominal inspiration for 'Letters to Juliet,' an unbearably predictable romance that would profane her name if it were not lifted a notch by the graceful, if inexplicable, presence of Vanessa Redgrave."

Orlando Sentinel: "As an old woman in search of the love she abandoned in Italy 50 years before, Vanessa Redgrave puts on an acting clinic in 'Letters to Juliet.' If only the star of this romantic comedy, Amanda 'Mamma Mia!' Seyfried, had taken notes."

The New York Observer
: "There's nothing wrong with a squishy, sentimental romantic confection now and then. But 'Letters to Juliet' is a mere lollipop. It's gone before its 101-minute running time expires, and you're left with the stick. ... It's all maddeningly predictable enough to keep you checking your watch, and despite the actors' camera-stealing close-ups, it is a colossal waste of all of the talent involved."

'Letters to Juliet' trailer

Roger Ebert: "I know 'Letters to Juliet' is a soppy melodrama, and I don't mind in the least. I know the ending is preordained from the setup. I know the characters are broad and comforting stereotypes. In this case, I simply don't care. Sometimes we have personal reasons for responding to a film."

The Hollywood Reporter: "Expect eye-rolling alongside the swoons at this bland, predictable picture, whose sole assets are a cute premise, the Italian countryside and the dignity Vanessa Redgrave brings to a part that, on the page, is quite beneath her."

The Kansas City Star: "'Letters' rises above pedestrian on several levels, but there's no underestimating the spectacular work of Redgrave, who has distilled everything she knows about acting into a funny, sad and wonderfully liberating performance without one ounce of hamminess. Maybe it's my own age talking, but there's something wonderfully liberating when a 73-year-old woman is sexier than her 25-year-old hottie co-star."

The Village Voice: "'Juliet's core messages -- date boys who are cool with you having a career and don't settle; NYC wine snobs are selfish, but guys who grow grapes and/or do pro bono legal work will love you forever -- are inoffensive, but they're hardly the stuff of swooning fantasia. And fantasy 'Juliet' clearly intends to be -- too many plane tickets are booked last-minute without mention of the cost of the trip. Gary Winick's flat direction does the material no favors: If Egan and Seyfried have any chemistry, it's framed out of their awkwardly staged climactic kisses."

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