February 12, 2011
Review - " Love Letters " - (on DVD) By Roland Hansen
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Directed By: Stanley Donen
Starring: Steven Weber, Laura Linney, Kirsten Storms
As Valentine's Day is fast approaching it only seems appropriate to be
reviewing this remarkable love story.
An ambitious U.S. Senator reflects back on his life after the death of a
woman whom he loved and kept in contact with only through
correspondence. The movie is told in flashbacks as the two first meet as
children and begin their lifelong correspondence. He grows into his
political aspirations and leaves her behind, as she becomes a struggling
artist. While he is successful, she has a rocky life. The film, itself, is a
fantastic story of two friends who battle through the perils of life's
struggle and pain to stay close and deal with the romantic feelings they
have and either choose to ignore or embrace.
The story of their lives is told through the letters which they wrote to each
other. Most of the film takes place in one room, with the two principals
speaking the contents of their letters to each other, but this approach,
surprisingly, works very well.
Steven Weber plays a U.S. Senator who has just attended the funeral of
his friend, Laura Linney. Alone in his office, he begins to read the letters
that they wrote to each other over the years, and Linney's spirit appears
to deliver her half of the communications, thus the scenes play as a
Simply stated, this is a love story that begins when Andy meets Melissa in second grade and progresses through their very
different lives (art school, Yale, Vietnam, alcoholism, divorces, politics, affairs, etc) until Melissa ultimately dies (we know this
from the opening scene so this is NO spoiler!). However, the fact that Linney was a rebellious, free-spirited girl, while Weber
was more serious and down-to-earth, kept them from consummating their romance, except for a brief affair. Both married
others, yet each was the great love of the other's life. The two friends and lovers by letters have such a deep relationship.
They forged a bond early on in their lives and kept it going through their writing.
The actors are terrific in one of the most moving films I've ever seen. I can't recommend this one too highly. The technique of
mixing actual interaction between the two characters with remembered responses works very well. Part of the reason this
small play becomes important is the extraordinary performance by Laura Linney as Melissa. The breadth of her
characterization is richly detailed, subtle, vulnerable, and wholly credible. The relationship in this film between Andy and
Melissa is a great one, and the art and power of letter writing is rightfully explored.
This film is so beautifully written and acted that one wonders why have we not heard more about it. It is a movie for both
sexes telling both sides of their lives thru their
letters - have a hankie ready. It flows naturally
and never ceases to hold your attention and
your heart as it is lovingly enacted.
This movie does not have what I would
consider the typical hollywood love ending.
Everything is not perfect, and you ache from it.
The actors make you feel what they are feeling.
The love, hate, indifference, and fear.
This is a movie for thinking adults who love the
theater and do not need for a movie to have
stunts, special effects and noise. The movie's
message is timeless and realistically represents
situations many of our age group have
encountered. The actors work very hard to
keep the viewers interest in a setting that is
quite challenging. Hollywood rarely takes risks
but I'm glad they did on this movie. This is such
a heartwarming and heartbreaking movie.