The Last Letter From Your Lover spans both past and present in the Augustine Frizzell-directed film adaptation of JoJo Moyes’s novel.
It’s hard to believe that this film was directed by Augustine Frizzell because it’s nothing like her debut feature, Never Goin’ Back! Frizzell’s own history with her husband, filmmaker David Lowery, is why she’s directing the film. Because of her background, she is the perfect director for the film!
Ellie Haworth (Felicity Jones) is a determined journalist after discovering love letters from 1965. Like any journalist, she wants to get to the bottom of these letters. In doing so, she learns more about an affair taking place between Jennifer Stirling (Shailene Woodley) and Anthony O’Hare (Callum Turner). O’Hare just happens to be the financial journalist covering Stirling’s wealthy industrialist husband, Laurence Stirling (Joe Alwyn). Back in the present day, there’s another romance taking place. This time, it’s between Ellie and an archivist, Rory McCallan (Nabhaan Rizwan), helping her track down letters.
The focus switches frequently between Ellie and Jennifer throughout the film. All in all, the film is a romance drama with a hint of mystery especially as we don’t know what happens to Jennifer and Anthony. But in watching the film, one can’t help but wonder if these kind of romantic mystery films are going to be a thing of the past. I mean, it’s going to be next to impossible to do this kind of story for electronic communications. It really feels like watching a time capsule in some way. This old way of life where people wrote love letters by hand–who does such a thing anymore? We’re now living in an area where people break up by text message.
The film plays to both Felicity Jones and Shailene Woodley’s strengths. It also allows them to sort of break free from the sort of roles we’re used to watching them in. How often does one see Woodley star in a period film? Not often, I’d say. It’s interesting to watch things play out in both past and present. On the one hand, there’s the love affair that is forbidden. But on the other hand, the present day lends itself to an unexpected romance. Neither of them were really looking for such a relationship!
Period films offer a lot of fun not just in production design but wardrobe, too. One would figure that Shailene Woodley would be wearing more of the old-school costumes. However, there’s just a tint of a 1960s look in what Felicity Jones and Nabhaan Rizwan are wearing.
Musically speaking, Haim pens “Cherry Flavored Stomach Ache” for the soundtrack. It’s a song that fits the scene. We’ll see what happens with its Oscar chances during awards season.
Screenwriters Nick Payne and Esta Spalding had their work cut out in adapting the book into a screenplay. Considering that they had some 600 pages of text to deal with, I’m sure some people will not be happy. You know what they say about books that get adapted to film, right? Being that I did not read the book, I cannot comment on that front. All I can say is that people should give the film a chance. It’s the least that anybody can do.
With the focus between then and now, The Last Letter From Your Lover feels very old-school but in a nice way.
DIRECTOR: Augustine Frizzell
SCREENWRITERS: Nick Payne and Esta Spalding
CAST: Felicity Jones, Callum Turner, Joe Alwyn, Nabhaan Rizwan, and Shailene Woodley, Ncuti Gatwa, Emma Appleton, Christian Brassington, Alice Orr-Ewing, Lee Knight, Zoe Boyle, Ben Cross, Diana Kent