Director: Augustine Frizzell
Starring: Felicity Jones, Callum Turner, Shailene Woodley, Joe Alwyn, Nabhaan Rizwan
Based on the 2008 novel by Jojo Moyes of the same name, The Last Letter from your Lover tells a love story that spans generations from the ‘Swinging 1960s’ to modern day London. Directed by Augustine Frizzell, the story jumps back and forth between the two narratives, highlighting the differences in society between then and now, while telling an emotional love story.
Both the 1960s and present-day storylines are told at a brisk pace with frequent shifting between the two. It’s through this that we get both a classical romance and a more modern rom com type story. The story does also give examples of how the world has changed, from the language they use, to the way women are treated, but this takes a back seat to the romantic drama on display. The dialogue though is fantastic, switching drastically and effective between both.
The performances are great and really pull the whole film together. Felicity Jones (The Aeronauts, The Theory of Everything), as always, is fantastic as Ellie. Her dialogue feels really natural, and the trouble of her bad break-up shows in the way she interacts with others. Her character really contrasts nicely with Shailene Woodley (The Fault in Our Stars, Little Big Lies) as Jennifer Stirling from the 1960s side of the story. Combined they show the difference in social attitudes from then and now. Woodley’s performance is fantastic, full of nuance and strong moments, from the muted hesitation at not being able to join the men’s conversation at the dinner table to the confrontation with her absent husband. The chemistry between Woodley and Callum Turner (Fantastic Beasts) as Anthony O’Hare is electric and alive, with a lot more passion than the relationship between Ellie and the newspaper archivist Rory, played by Nabhaan Rizwan (1917) in the modern side of the story.
The 1960s is looked upon with rose-tinted nostalgia with great music, beautiful set designs and wonderful costumes to capture your imagination and keep you hooked on the story. At the end of every flashback, you want to carry on in the 60s and find out what happens next, and the same with each present-day segment.
What could be two generic love stories is presented in a unique way, making The Last Letter from your Lover feel fresh and new. It’s a lovely emotional story, but not much more and sometimes that’s all you need. There are moments, especially towards the end, where it drives towards a soppier approach, and moments where it seems to want to follow the tropes of a rom com; without committing to either style, it can be a bit of a mishmash of both. For the most part, the two styles blend well together and gives something for romantics of all kinds to enjoy.
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