The Last Letter from Your Lover

***1/2

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

The Last Letter From Your Lover
"Romance is infectious and by the end you're likely to have caught a good dose of it."

This dual time period romance from Augustine Frizzell, adapted from the book by Jojo Moyes should appeal to romantics as it comes complete with not one but two will they/won’t they affairs but it does require some patience to start with before things get going.

Beginning in the Sixties, the early action involving husband and wife Jennifer and Lawrence Stirling (Shailene Woodley and Joe Alwyn) has the air of one of those Flake adverts from the 70s to start with, all gauzy photography and whispered conversation in burnished hallways. Thankfully, the modern time period is on hand to inject some energy when journalist Ellie (Felicity Jones relishing a lighter role than she often gets) discovers a love letter and, after a meet-cute with newspaper archivist Rory (Nabhaan Rizwan), decides to try to track down the owner.

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It’s not just Ellie who is trying to unravel the mystery, as we soon learn that Jennifer has also lost her memory, following an accident, setting the scene for her to recount her affair with journalist Anthony O’Hare (Callum O'Hare, whose voice-over of the letters has a melted chocolate quality) from its beginnings. Frizzell goes all in on the earlier period and benefits from handsome production design and costuming from James Merifield and Anna Robbins, which makes the Sixties come alive and recalling sun-kissed pictures from the period. The love triangle in the past also recalls stars from the period, with Woodley a Natalie Wood type and Alwyn giving off aloof Michael Yorke vibes. Oddly, the modern period feels less realistic in terms of setting, perhaps because Frizzell is so all in for the Sixties – even leaving aside the idea that Ellie would be given all this time to go off on the hunt, not to mention the fantastical thought of a huge newspaper archive both stretch the bounds of believability to breaking point, things here never feel as 'real' as in the past.

The script from Esta Spalding and Nick Payne has plenty of bounce, though, as it strikes parallels between the much more perfunctory courtship afforded by modern text message compared to the hand written entreaties of the past. It's always tricky to balance two time periods and the sparkle and fizz of possibility about Ellie and Rory is somewhat jettisoned in the film’s middle portion but Frizzell finds solid pay off as the past finally meets the present. Romance is infectious and by the end you're likely to have caught a good dose of it.

Reviewed on: 06 Aug 2021
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The Last Letter from Your Lover packshot
A journalist finds a cache of secret love letters from the past and becomes determined to unearth the mystery about a forbidden affair.

Director: Augustine Frizzell

Writer: Nick Payne, Esta Spalding, based on the book by Jojo Moyes

Starring: Shailene Woodley, Joe Alwyn, Wendy Nottingham, Felicity Jones, Jacob Fortune-Lloyd, Ncuti Gatwa, Emma Appleton, Jessica D'Arcy, Ann Ogbomo, Nabhaan Rizwan, Alice Orr-Ewing, Zoe Boyle, Christian Brassington, Lee Knight, Rachel Atkins

Year: 2021

Runtime: 110 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: UK, France

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