Director: Augustine Frizzell
Writers: Nick Payne, Esta Spalding, Jojo Moyes (based on the book by)
Stars: Shailene Woodley, Joe Alwyn, Wendy Nottingham
RATING: 2.5 Stars
A pair of interwoven stories set in the past and present follow an ambitious journalist determined to solve the mystery of a forbidden love affair at the centre of a trove of secret love letters from 1965. – From IMDB
Disclaimer before I continue. I am not a huge fan of romances. I mostly think they are the same story told over and over again with different people, in a different circumstance. But the core of the story is almost always the same. Boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in love. Something awfully traumatic or dramatic happens and bot and girl split up, usually due to a simple error in communication. Traumatic/dramatic communication error is rectified and everyone lives happily ever after.
And while this is a tried and tested method that keeps millions of people for some reason on tender hooks waiting for that dramatic declaration of love at the end, it very rarely does it for me. But my main criticism of this movie isn’t even it’s use of this formula, which in the case of this plot it does not just once, but twice! Once in each timeline. But for me, the characters simply were not interesting enough to carry this story.
This isn’t through any fault of the acting, everyone does an outstanding job here. Shailene Woodley in particular was outstanding in this film. But the writing, and the total lack of background or character building done with any of the four major characters means that the romances end up feeling incredibly bland. I want to know and love the characters in a love story. I want to see their passion, and see them overcome their troubles and grow as people. But that simply doesn’t happen here.
Rory and Ellie’s story is almost an afterthought to the main story with Jennifer and Anthony. As a result, they get basically no character development until the very, very end. We know virtually nothing about them outside of this immediate story, and the idea that they have both suffered recent break-ups. And because we see so little of them onscreen, their romance seems to happen very quickly and therefore unrealistically. Jennifer and Anthony, while they have the screen time to afford them a little more character, are both infuriating people. Making the same mistakes over and over. Missing their chance to be together not once but twice because Jennifer couldn’t make the hard decision. In spite of all these criticisms though, I did find myself incredibly invested in their story, and wanting to find out what happened, so clearly they are doing something right.
So while the love story was beautiful, and the ending incredibly satisfying, it all comes off a bit repetitive and bland. Not the take away you want to have from a Romantic film.
‘The Last Letter From Your Lover’ is in UK cinemas on the 6th of August