In the modern age where love can feel as fleeting as a swipe right, The Last Letter From Your Lover shows how artifacts of passion from the past can transcend time and change the future. The film alternates between two timelines: An illicit love affair between Jennifer Stirling (Shailene Woodley) the wife of a successful business man, and journalist Anthony O’Hare (Callum Turner) in 1965, and a blossoming romance between Ellie (Felicity Jones) a dating columnist and Rory, (Nabhaan Rizwan), the paper’s archivist, both discovering letters from O’Hare and Stirling.
With a love story that encompasses generations, the movie attempts to create the next The Notebook. Unfortunately, the two time periods presented in the film are wildly different in tone, with the past playing like an elegant period drama while the present is a mediocre romantic comedy. These tonal shifts make the
Augustine Frizzell’s feature seem like 2 separate entities than one cohesive whole.
It’s a shame because there are significant portions of this film that really work. Sure, during some moments, Woodley drifts between a great Jackie Kennedy and her normal, modern dialect. However, despite the accents, the period piece of the film sucks you into Jennifer and Anthony’s whirlwind romance. You feel the sexual tension between the two as the affair begins to build. It’s the kind of chemistry that helps sell the more cheesy, melodramatic aspects, and is needed in order to make a feature like this work.
Meanwhile, you could never tell that Felicity Jones is a fantastic actress from her performance here. While Jones has done great work in the Romantic genre (Like Crazy), she appears to be sleepwalking through her role here, delivering her lines blandly. Her chemistry with male actor is paper thin at best, which is a significant distraction when Woodley and male actor have it in spades. The weak writing and chemistry between Ellie and Rory is almost enough to make one grab the remote and skip to the period affair scenes. The Last Letter From Your Lover wants to be the latest romantic smash hit, but just like Woodley’s letters, the film will eventually get lost in the sea of Netflix titles, only to maybe be unearthed decades from now.
The Silver Lining
The score by Daniel Hart is elegant and feels like something out of a memory; light, hazy and a slow build over time. It also nicely reflects the evolving nature of Jennifer and Anthony’s relationship. It’s a shame that Hart’s work is mostly only utilized in the 1965 portions and not the entire flick.
The Last Letter From Your Lover is available now on Netflix!