A bestselling 2011 romantic novel from author JoJo Moyes receives a Netflix adaptation in The Last Letter from Your Lover. Augustine Frizzell directs the film, while Nick Payne and Esta Spalding adapt the screenplay. A pair of interwoven stories set in the present and past is the central plot of The Last Letter from Your Lover.
In the present day, Ellie Haworth (Felicity Jones) is an ambitious journalist who discovers a trove of secret love letters from 1965 involving Jennifer Stirling (Shailene Woodley) and Anthony O’Hare (Callum Turner). Needing a boost in her writing career, Ellie becomes determined to solve the mystery of the forbidden affair at their center. The film follows along as she uncovers the story behind Jennifer Stirling (Shailene Woodley), the wife of wealthy industrialist Laurence (Joe Alwyn), and Anthony O’Hare (Callum Turner), the financial journalist assigned to cover him. Meanwhile, a love story of Ellie’s own begins to unfold with the assistance of an earnest and endearing archivist Rory (Nabhaan Rizwan), who helps her track down more letters.
After the success of 2004’s The Notebook, interwoven love stories became a scorching commodity. Sometimes there a success like The Photograph, and other times they can be a miss as in 2014’s The Best of Me. I enjoyed 2016’s Me Before You, the last adaption of a JoJo Moyes film to grace the screen. Furthermore, I consider myself a fan of both lead actresses in The Last Letter from Your Lover. Read on to find out my thoughts on the latest romance to grace the small screen.
The Last Letter from Your Lover opens with a standard introduction to our female leads. The audience instantly knows from the moment they meet Ellie and Jennifer what their character traits are. Ellie makes terrible decisions regarding men, while Shailene Woodley is more of a free spirit clearly in a loveless marriage. In the role of Ellie Haworth, Felicity Jones erases the bad vibes from the 2020 stinker, The Midnight Sky. Jones brings a likable charisma to Ellie, and while Ellie’s life choices are questionable, I did admire her drive in the film.
Shailene Woodley is just a joy to watch on screen. In between her roles in the more series The Mauritanian and The Fallout, it was refreshing to see Woodley in something a bit lighter. Woodley fully taps into the part of a sixties wife who must conform to what society expects her to be and looking fashionable while doing so. Of the two actresses, I did prefer the Woodley storyline.
The men in the film do not have that much to do besides serve as placeholders. On the one hand, Joe Alwyn uses his acting talent to turn Laurence into an unlikeable douche. Callum Turner does what he can to elevate the weak material and does have good chemistry with Shailene Woodley. Thus, it is easy to see why Anthony was able to swoop in and garner the attention of Jennifer. However, it is nothing we have not seen before, and some viewers may check their watch numerous times, waiting for the resolution to arrive.
The primary problem with The Last Letter from Your Lover, though, is the script. Granted, I have not read the novel, so I cannot speak on what Nick Payne and Esta Spalding got right. However, I will say the film goes by with the motions until the credits roll. The talent in the movie does deliver decent performances, but they all deserve a more robust script.
I am a fan of a good love story, but The Last Letter from Your Lover misses the mark for me. I will recommend the film for a girl’s night with some wine, but fellas, if you are looking for a Netflix & Chill title, this is not the one.
Final Grade: C
The Last Letter from Your Lover is available to stream now on Netflix.