Shailene Woodley starts The Last Letter From Your Lover off in London in 1966 as she’s recovering from amnesia after a mysterious accident. We are then shown the few months leading up to the accident, narrated by Woodley and her eventual secret lover’s (Callum Turner) letters. This is edited together with scenes of Felicity Jones as a present day journalist reading said letters, becoming so intrigued she begins writing a feature about them. All this while starting to flirt with the head of the archives where she finds the letters.
For the first hour, The Last Letter From Your Lover does seem to be a bit of a tedious and tired example of a generic romantic drama. A lot of the scenes set in the 1960s feel quite reminiscent of the recent and average Rebecca adaptation by Ben Wheatley. This isn’t helped by the fact that it is also filmed in the south of France. The romance between Woodley and Turner is fairly standard and isn’t really written with much originality. Many of the lines are easy to predict if you’ve seen enough of this type of film. While that’s going on, it feels like Felicity Jones’ story is completely pointless. She just seems to be a framing device to justify having the story narrated by letters. She’s simply reading what’s going on as we watch it and her reactions don’t really add much to the overall experience.
However, as the film gets to the half way mark and the full story of the old love affair is revealed. Things start to fall in to place and the binary nature of the film’s story telling makes far more sense. Woodley and Turner’s relationship becomes a lot more interesting and you can see more why Felicity Jones is so fascinated. Jones and her budding romance start to become more likeable and enjoyable as well (though even by the end, it’s hard to see why Jones really likes him) and the film becomes a full package. As you might guess, the two stories do come together eventually and result in a beautifully emotional ending that will lead to a large demand for tissues.
The acting all around is acceptable yet no one in the cast really stands out. Shailene Woodley does try her best with the material she is given, though her performance here is a far cry from Big Little Lies. While Felicity Jones comes off a lot of the time as a bit of gender swapped Hugh Grant. What is rather fantastic about The Last Letter From Your Lover is its score. Some of the most emotional moments of the film are completely elevated by the searing music that accompanies it. If the scenes themselves don’t get you shedding a tear, then the soundtrack will manage to push them out.
The Last Letter From Your Lover is at its heart quite a run of the mill love story. It’s the directing and music that give it the push it needs to be an emotional and enjoyable romance. You just have to wait quite a while to become truly invested.
The Last Letter From Your Lover releases in cinemas on August 6th