While hubby-to-be Gael busies himself sampling drinks & food, Sophie takes off on her own, discovers a wall filled with sad love letters that are daily taken down, & answered by a team of dedicated women. She finds one letter half a century old, is so taken by it that she herself replies. It reaches the writer (Vanessa Redgrave) who flies to Verona with her stuffy grandson (Christopher Egan) in an impulsive need to learn what happened to the guy she once loved.
Two plots ensue: the search, which takes grandma, grandson & Sophie on a whirlwind tour of the surrounding areas in hopes of finding the guy. They meet dozens, not one of which has the right look to tell the elderly lady he's the one, untilŠ
The other plot is less interesting, more reminiscent of all the old-fashioned love stories in the boy-meets-girl (grandson & Sophie) routine, who first hit it off badly, then find true love but have difficulty breaking off their respective romantic mates. Would I be giving anything away to tell you how it works out? Plot #23, folks, with the ending telegraphed after a third of the 95-minutes has been seen, with the hapless couple finding truth over a clash with gelato and, later, under a star-studded Italian sky.
The start is as sprite & bouncy (like the background music) as one could wish for, but as soon as the characters reveal themselves in stereotypical roles only the search plot continues to hold interest; the rest, just a matter of time before it all works out as hoped for.
That's unfortunate, because the film is assuredly shot, gloriously visual, with a passle of cameramen recording lush scenes in all the places including the wine countries in & around Verona & Tuscany - all bathed in sun-kissed, golden beauty that only a wide screen could reveal handsomely and which deserves a better storyline. It also deserves a director other than Gary Winick, who handles the emotional moments adequately but seems to have no clear idea as how to mold his characters. Ms. Seyfried comes off best, with the other characters loosely stereotypical - and with poor Ms. Redgrave giving the most awkward performance of her career as she improvises like a silly novice, throwing in every hackneyed trick in her repertoire.
For its better moments & visual delights, we could almost forgive so much superficiality (along with the fact that everyone from farm hands to business people speak enough English to avoid a lot of sub-titles). As it stands, it's no more than a better than average chick flick chock full of emotion triggers and dialog that makes one wince: "An angel brought you to me." "Destiny wanted us to meet again." Oh, brother! (Grade: C+)