Two parallel love stories both end up falling flat in the rather drab The Last Letter from Your Lover
“I don’t think being afraid to try is a good enough reason for anything”
Based on Jojo Moyes’ 2012 novel, The Last Letter from Your Lover aims to tell two parallel love stories, connected over 50 years by the titular missive, but failing to do either one particularly well. It’s a shame as there’s a fair amount of talent here – the adaptation is by Nick Payne and Esta Spalding, the two leads are Felicity Jones and Shailene Woodley – but the split focus ends up helping no-one.
In modern-day London, journalist Ellie Haworth finds a love letter that she can’t get out of her mind; in the 1960s, married housewife Jennifer Stirling meets a reporter she can’t get out of hers. And as Ellie gets sucked into the story with the help of cute archivist Rory, we find out more about Jennifer’s journey from unsatisfactory marriage to sun-dappled dalliances on the French Riviera.
Augustine Frizzell’s direction ping-pongs between the two time periods with alarming regularity. Every time you think we’re finally getting into a meaty bit of character development or deeper meaning, we flit to the other and so the whole narrative ends up feeling entirely flimsy, a surface-level look at two relationships which captures little of the depth of romance that ought to drive a story like this.
It’s not badly acted, it is just that there too little to make it convince. Nabhaan Rizwan is great as Rory but the romantic bend to his feelings is way too contrived and rushed. And Callum Turner is delicious but you just want more focus on how his Anthony falls for Jennifer so scandalously. Turner and Woodley share intriguing chemistry but the film fails to ignite a similar depth of feeling for us.