The Last Letter from Your Lover
WHERE TO WATCH:
WHAT IT'S ABOUT:
After finding a trove of love letters from the 1960s, a journalist sets out to solve the mystery of a secret affair.
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
Netflix's new romance, The Last Letter from Your Lover, is the nostalgic love note that hopeless romantics have wistfully been yearning to find in their PO Box. But it's still no contender for The Notebook.
Writing a letter, especially if it's to your lover, is a chance to slow down enough to say what you really mean. They are magical, not only because they record a moment in time and place but also because they preserve a relationship and often tell a better story than any romance novel could.
Few movies have understood epistolary romance better than Nick Cassavetes's The Notebook. In 2016 George Tillman Jr. brought us The Longest Ride, another Nicholas Sparks novel that truly understands the meaning of love letters and a tale with somewhat similar arcs to Augustine Frizzell's film depiction of The Last Letter.
Based on romance writer Jojo Moyes' 2012 novel, The Last Letter unfolds a pair of interwoven stories set in the present and 1960s. Ellie Haworth (Felicity Jones), an ambitious journalist, discovers secret love letters from 1965 and becomes determined to solve the mystery of the forbidden affair. As she uncovers the story behind Jennifer Stirling (Shailene Woodley), the wife of wealthy industrialist Laurence (Joe Alwyn), and Anthony O'Hare (Callum Turner), the financial journalist assigned to cover him, Ellie's own love story unfolds with the assistance of Rory (Nabhaan Rizwan), an earnest, endearing archivist who helps her track down more letters.
The movie feels like a daydream visually. The styling is impeccable, especially with the attention to detail given to Woodley's Audrey Hepburn-ish glamour role. The portrayal of a summer love affair on the French Riviera is serene in contrast to the chaos of rainy London.
The letters themselves are charming declarations of shameless adoration. They certainly gave me the urge to slip a passionate note into my partner's lunch bag. Still, unfortunately, I found the other aspects of the film to be lacking. Although dressed impeccably and caught up in luxurious surroundings, I found Woodley to be miscast in the role. She seems to be trying to connect to this character but never really makes us believe in the passion she feels for the handsome man who has swept her off her feet.
I will admit that this isn't entirely her fault. The chemistry between Woodley and Turner isn't quite on the level of the connection between Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams in The Notebook. Additionally, Turner gives a flat, bloodless performance. At the same time, Alwyn - who the audience is supposed to feel nothing for - plays a bit of a bore as the rich, egotistic husband. Finally, Jones and Rizwan give far better performances as their chemistry is way better, but still lacking the passion this love story aims to tell.
On the bright side, it is worth sticking it through to the end – it is only the last 30 minutes or so that my heartstrings started to feel tugged. Without giving too much away, predictable as this film may be, this Notebook wannabe finally provokes some tears and a good enough reason to spend a cold winter's night curled up on the couch streaming it once the puzzle starts falling into place.
The Last Love Letter from Your Lover will easily make you fall in love with writing letters, but perhaps not leave you floating on a cloud of daydreams.
WATCH THE TRAILER HERE: