Romantic dramas based on a book are a dime a dozen in Hollywood, and this one is based on Jojo Moyes‘s 2012 romance novel of the same name. To be honest, I’m not that familiar with her work but I remember her other novel Me Before You was also made into a movie, which I have yet to see.
The film features a pair of interwoven stories, set in the past and present with its own set of romantic pairing. In 1965 London, there’s the wealthy and gorgeous young couple, Jennifer and Lawrence Stirling (Shailene Woodley + Joe Alwyn).
Lawrence is a successful industrialist and the two seem like a match made in heaven, except their marriage is cold and distant. There’s a scar on Jennifer’s face and it’s slowly revealed she’s been in a car accident that causes her to have Amnesia. Meanwhile, journalist Ellie Haworth (Felicity Jones) is awake in a man’s bed and despite him appearing interested in her, she made a dash out the door after calling him by the wrong name, twice. We’re supposed to think of her as a modern, independent woman with a blasé attitude about love and romance. Yet, when she stumbles upon a trove of secret love letters from the 60s during work research, she is immediately intrigued and wants to solve the mystery of this love affair.
I must admit I have a thing for letters in movies… there’s something so enchanting about hand-written correspondence in the digital era. Letter writing is pretty much a lost art as people often make or break relationships via text these days. One day, a journalist named Anthony O’Hare (Callum Turner) turns up at the Stirling’s luxurious resort in the South of France on assignment to interview Lawrence. When he’s called away on business, as he often is, Jennifer and Anthony immediately formed a bond. Of course it’s no surprise that the initial friendship turns to romance, and Anthony asks Jennifer to run away with him to New York and leave her loveless marriage of convenience behind. As the Bard said in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, “the course of true love never did run smooth” … such is the case between these star-crossed lovers that make up the A + J in the letters.
Director Augustine Frizzell does her best in balancing the parallel storyline, which is a tricky task, but I feel like the constant back and forth between the two stories could’ve been smoother. That’s not the biggest issue for me though, but more in the chemistry, or should I say lack thereof, between the two couples. It’s crucial in a love story like this to be invested in the couple that make up the romance. Alas, the relationships of all involved feel superficial and lacking serious heat, despite the film packing ALL the quintessential romantic setting. Alluring European location, check. Christmas-y scenery with fluffy snowfalls, check. Hand touching/kissing in the rain, check. It sure is beautiful visually, but at the end of the day, it’s the genuine human connection that makes any film memorable.
I wonder if the casting is the issue. Right from the trailer, I was already skeptical about Turner’s casting and he didn’t exactly prove me wrong. Strangely enough, though Woodley is younger than both Turner AND Alwyn, she looks much more mature in the film, not sure if it’s the makeup or her outfits, but perhaps just the way she carries herself. Both Turner and Alwyn look more like frat-boys that it’s hard for me to take seriously. I think generally speaking the female performers out-acted the male ones by a long stretch here.
The pairing of Jones and Nabhaan Rizwan fares a bit better though. Again it’s no surprise that Ellie forms a bond with Rory, the sweet and polite chap working at the Archives department who’s helping her with the letter investigation Now, it’s not that they have a scorching chemistry, but their tentative romance feels more endearing perhaps because there’s less riding on their romance being all-consuming passion like the one between A & J. I do give the casting director props for finding suitable mature actors to play the older Anthony and Jennifer (Ben Cross and Diana Kent), which works quite well in the brief moment they appear on screen.
Now, I haven’t read the book so I can’t say if this is a faithful adaptation. There isn’t much depth in the film version, but I have a feeling there’s more complexity in the book that we don’t see. Apart from the fact that Lawrence is constantly traveling, he is not a horrible husband per se, but we’re expected to think what Jennifer does to him is justified. There’s even less we know about Ellie and Rory, and for someone who seemingly doesn’t care much about love and romance, Ellie sure goes out of her way to act the opposite.
The Last Letter From Your Lover is such a romantic title that immediately conjures up thoughts of a swoon-worthy affair. Unfortunately the actual movie is less swoon-inducing but more melodramatic and formulaic. I suppose this is a decent movie to pass the time on a slow Saturday afternoon, but far from being a romance classic. As far as films dealing with infidelity goes, best to just rent Brief Encounter that’s guaranteed to leave you breathless.
11 thoughts on “FlixChatter Review: The Last Letter from Your Lover (2021)”
I read and saw the movie for Me Before You, and they were both just “fine” with the book being better. If this was on a streaming service, I’d probably watch for the cast, but I’m definitely not rushing to this.
Ah ok so the book of Me Before You is also better than the movie, I’d imagine this one is also the case. Yeah, no need to rush to see this one.
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I’m just not a Shailene Woodley fan and for me, her acting is cringe-worthy so it takes a lot for me to want to watch her, which I have say in like in Big Little Lies etc.. I did. But it looks like I will have no problem skipping this one! thanks for the good review and letting us all know!
Shailene just looks like she’s about to cry every two seconds, I forgot to mention that in my review, ahah. But still I think the women fare better than the male actors, I just can’t stand the guy playing her lover. I think if they were to cast someone more bewitching like say, Tom Hiddleston or Tom Bateman, it might be more watchable.
hahahhahaha it’s so weird – I just used to love Hiddleston before he became so hugely famous, and I went to the premiere of ‘I Saw The Light’ and he sat behind me during the film, it was so terrible, his performance was terrible, but you had to clap cuz I mean the dude is right there. Then afterwards there was a super fun party, I must say, and the person I was with knew him somewhat, so we went to chat – and while he is very nice, he also just talks..and when I say just talks, I mean rambles and 20 min answers of basically nothingness to the most simplest of questions. I actually got bored in the middle of one of them and ordered a drink, and when I turned back around, he was still going on and on. I thought it was me, but afterwards I asked others like ‘was that weird or was that me?’ hahahhahaaha they thought the same, but were so enamored by him that they hung on every word & had no idea what he even said. And then I noticed.. he does that a lot. It’s just weird to me. I’m kinda neither here nor there on him anymore. I get Tom Bateman confused with Jaime Dornan a lot! they are like twins! ahhahahahaha
Oh wow! You sure have met a bunch of my favorite Brits! That’s interesting that Hiddles is a talker, but I can totally see that. I absolutely adore his speaking voice, it’s like music to my ear, so I probably would be hanging on every word and just be transfixed by him if he ever chatted me up like that. Can’t believe you were actually bored by him, ahah. Was he handsome in real life? He’s definitely tall compared to most of the Avengers.
Have you met Tom Bateman? He’s my dream leading man for my film, exactly how I picture the male protagonist to look like. Dornan is hilarious in interviews but I don’t see him as a sexy actor.
Oh I adored Hiddleston, but it’s like if you ask someone ‘how’s the weather?” and they launch into a 20 min weather report..I don’t care who it is, when you’re at a party, you’re going to tone out a little. I think we all paid attention for awhile as of course I was like ‘wow this is great..’ it was just after awhile, I realized I felt like he was just talking for talkings sake..I don’t know how I can explain it or have it make sense to where it doesn’t sound bad..it wasn’t..it was just weird or monotonous maybe..again..I don’t know how to explain it really. yeah I have pictures of it all..I posted them way back then on I dunno.. maybe Facekook which I haven’t had in almost 2 yrs now so not even sure if they are stored there anymore. oh well. He’s nice, he’s very tall & thin, and I’m 5’10 usually about 6’1 w/heels so if I noticed he was tall..he is! ha! He is good looking as he has what can best be described as ‘presence’ or as we used to say ‘the it factor’ and he is nice. But I could also tell he was as we say ‘monied’ as in grew up with money..and as the brits say ‘posh boy’ for sure. The accents. the polish. over-making the point of being gracious, but with a slight that you have to see to understand. As someone who repped actors for 12yrs, I feel like I get what’s behind it all. anyways.. he is still nice, I’m just marveled out now and it feels like this was forever ago! hahaahhaha Never met Tom Bateman..honestly I feel like him and Jamie Dornan are inter-changeable. hahaha like I feel like I would probably mistake one for the other and vise versa and call them the wrong name and be totally embarrassed by doing so…as I do when I watch them. It always takes me a bit to realize which one it is. I do like them both though, but again, so very similar. Enough of this tho.. when are we zooming??
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