THE LOVE LETTER
Capshaw is Helen, a divorced bookstore owner in the tiny coastal village
of Loblolly-By-The-Sea, Massachusetts. Though lonely, she is somewhat bitter
after her marital experience; she doesn't seem interested in romance and
expends her frustrated energy by running every morning.
One day she is going through the mail and finds a letter, under the pile,
with no envelope, that contains the most romantic message she's ever read.
It is unsigned and contains no salutation, but she assumes (since it was
in her store) that someone left it there for her. She begins imagining all
the possible people who could be in love with her, from George Mathias (Tom
Selleck), the town's only fireman who's in the middle of a divorce, to her
employee Johnny (Tom Everett Scott), a handsome college boy about to return
to school, to her manager Janet (Ellen DeGeneres), who attempts to get lucky
every night and comes in late every morning. Janet is an unlikely candidate
though; despite DeGeneres's well-known orientation, Janet is decidedly heterosexual.
Things start getting complicated, however, when others begin running
across the cryptic note. Janet sees it and thinks its for her, from George.
Johnny finds it and thinks its for him, from Helen. Consequently, he gets
a crush on her, despite the fact that he is the object of Emily's (Breanne
Smith) affection. As the romantic temperature rises in the small town, people's
well-ordered lives begin to unravel. Of course, we don't discover until
the end who the real sender and recipient are, and this revelation is enjoyably
This movie's greatest asset is its talented cast. The relationships formed between co-workers, friends, and lovers are real and comfortable. Director Chan, in his first American effort, does a good job of steadily raising the romantic tension. Where it fails is in developing the characters individually. Helen is obviously a jaded, tragic heroine, but we never really learn enough of her history to understand why. DeGeneres, though an energetic contrast to Helen's brooding persona, is unknown to us outside the bookstore. Scott's passion is evident as the amorous Johnny, but his needs, wants even his college major are undiscovered. Perhaps Chan wanted to focus so much on the romance that he chose to forego character delineation. But if you're in the mood for a light summer romance without too much substance, The Love Letter is adequately uplifting. ****
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