Review in a Hurry: Scenic, sweet and a bit of a snore, Juliet is ostensibly about the thrill of true love, but lacks the racing pulse of fiery passion.
The Bigger Picture: While sightseeing at the supposed home of Shakespeare's Juliet, Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) finds herself in the middle of an old love story. Claire (Vanessa Redgrave) left her lover Lorenzo in the dust 50 years ago, and her tortured letter to Juliet—one of many left at the Casa Di Giulietta in Verona, Italy—almost literally falls into Sophie's lap, as tends to happen in these movies. Soon, Sophie, Claire, and grumpy grandson Charlie (Christopher Egan) hit the road in search of Claire's Lorenzo.
Refreshingly, at first, Sophie is the opposite of the type-A, too-overworked-for-love female prototype so common in romances. Alas, she's too much the opposite—meek, soft-spoken, her huge doe eyes welling with vulnerability.
Usually, such heroines find their voice throughout a movie. And while Sophie does triumph, her persona remains all too mousy; she's a lackluster protagonist, which is a shame because a strong personality is necessary to compete with the amazing scenery of Tuscany.
And it seems the scenery is the only thing in the movie endowed with magic and mystery, and it is stunning, shot with respectful adoration by cinematographer Marco Pontecorvo.
In contrast, the serviceable but stodgy direction lends no energy or passion to this homage to the world's greatest romance. It's almost like the movie is afraid of what it should be—a young, frisky love story that should be exuberant and carefree, even if it means risking making a fool of itself. What's love, after all, if it doesn't do exactly that?
The 180—a Second Opinion: Rounding out the cast is an impressive group, including Gael García Bernal as Sophie's mismatched fiancé, Victor, the dashing Franco Nero and of course Redgrave, who effortlessly imbues her performance with class and humor.