When you first hear of The Last Letter From Your Lover, and even when watching the start of the film, you cannot help but think it will be another cliché romcom with cringe humour and a predictable plot. However, you stand to be proved wrong.
The film is more of a mystery-turned-romance with the classic enemies-to-lovers trope—but incredibly well done. Two storylines are woven in together. One is set in the 1960s, focusing on a woman, Jennifer (Shailene Woodley), who experiences amnesia after a car crash, meaning she cannot remember the man she was going to leave her loveless marriage for, Meanwhile, Ellie (Felicity Jones) in the present day finds love letters between Jennifer and her lover, leading her to investigate their love story for a feature in The London Chronicle. The longevity of love and longing is contested by distance, with two lovers constantly missing the chance to be together.
Jennifer is fantastically played by Woodley and the role is a testament to her abilities as an actress. Many will know her as the star of the Divergent films and The Fault in Our Stars. In The Last Letter From Your Lover, she is remarkably different. Instead of a teenager, she is a housewife who grapples with her position as a wife in a marriage that has no real spark or romance. In fact, we hardly see her and her husband together. Joe Alwyn plays Laurence with arrogance but slight charm, so it is understandable as to why Jennifer married him, but the contrast makes the romance between Jennifer and Anthony (Callum Turner) even more convincing.
Ellie is very similar to Jennifer, their stories almost running parallel to each other. As Anthony asks Jennifer why she has not had children yet, she replies that her and Laurence have been unable to have them due to his travelling for work. Meanwhile, Ellie broke up with her boyfriend of eight years as she was unsure about having children. As Jennifer goes to sleep in her husband’s bed after calling him the wrong name, in the next scene Ellie wakes up after a one-night stand where she repeatedly mistakes the name of the man she had slept with. Similar in looks also, and perhaps with a similar yearning for love. it’s perfect casting complemented by brilliant writing.
True to Jojo Moyes’ original novel, romance is at the heart of this film, intertwined with tragedy. The film opens with an Erneat Hemmingway quote A Farewell to Arms that reads “my darling, I don’t live at all when I’m not with you,” a sentiment that truly embodies the ethos of the film. It is a journey of triumph and tribulations, turbulence and more in order for the two, arguably star-crossed lovers, to unite. Despite initially not being so warm to each other, the budding romance is shown in the sequenced scenes of letter-writing, to having dinner together, to letter-writing, to meeting up… all shot in quick succession whilst Jennifer’s smile keeps getting bigger and bigger as she writes to Anthony.
This intensity is contrasted by the comedy of Jones’ scenes as she argues with archive assistant Rory (Nabhaan Rizwan). They bicker the need to book online rather than in person, eats food in three quick bites with pure annoyance before entering the room, paired with an infectious fizz and determination to unite Anthony and Jennifer in their old age. If anything, the romance between Ellie and Rory is easier to enjoy than that between Jennifer and Anthony. It is sweet, simple and with no real complications. Character depth feels a little lacking—with five main roles it’s understandably hard to really delve deep,but at times they all feel slightly disjointed and known less as characters and more for their roles in the story. Still, it perseveres through the tumult of the romances.
Both mysterious, thrilling and romantic, The Last Letter from your Lover is the perfect watch for a late summer evening or pick-me-up after work. You’ll be more engrossed than you realise, and genuinely sad when it is over.
The Last letter From Your Lover is out in cinemas now.
Words by Aoifke McGuire-France
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