I recently watched "Letters to Juliette." It's not a film I would normally have watched. I like RomComs occasionally, especially when I want something escapist, but this movie seemed to be pitched to high-school girls and the leads seemed immature. I watched this movie despite that, because it had Vanessa Redgrave. And I like the idea of an older woman searching for her true love. Romance for grandmothers doesn't happen often in the movies. Even so, it almost lost me before she even arrived.
The familiar tropes are there, which is fine for a Romantic Comedy. The concept is a little bit different and clever. But the characters and dialogue fail miserably. The lead is dull and wimpy, with an annoying fiance and no clear reason for them to be together. None. Yes, we know the guy she's with at the beginning will be the wrong guy, but if there's no good reason for them to be in a relationship - it undermines the integrity of the characters.
Then you have the romantic interest, who is such a completely boorish, rude, pretentious little twit it's impossible to empathize with him, even when his motivation for bad behaviour is supposedly for a good reason (to protect his grandmother.) And even after spending time together, there's no real build of any connection between them. And the girl's project seems silly and selfish - there's no real depth of insight.
But then there's Ms. Redgrave.
She breathes, and makes it a moment. She takes the most trite lines and delivers them in surprising ways. There is a scene when she is reprimanding her grandson for being hurtful to Amanda Seyfriend's character - and the most obvious delivery of the lines would have been harsh or angry. But she sighs, and with a gentle gesture, turns it into a tender and affectionate moment.
Really, calling this a comedy is a stretch - there are a couple of funny moments, but they are handled poorly. The actors, mostly, are too weak to make their characters believable, funny, or likable. Except for Vanessa Redgrave. It was worth watching a bad film, just because it highlighted the beauty of her performance.
This film made it clear to me, too, the importance of good actors. A decent line will fall flat in a bad actor's mouth. An average actor may disappear when playing an average character - but a good actor, like a good photographer, may make even and ugly baby look beautiful