Romeo and Juliet is probably the most iconic love story of all time, but with a rather unfortunate ending — which, of course, goes against the entire concept of a romantic comedy. And although the original doesn’t fit the criteria, many of the spin-offs do. Those of which include “Letters to Juliet.”
I happened to stumble upon this movie one night and clicked on it thinking Amanda Seyfried was going to recreate “Romeo and Juliet” in modern times. I was, in fact, completely wrong, but I’m grateful I was — it was so much better. I ended up watching it another two times that week.
If you’re unfamiliar with the plot: “Letters to Juliet” follows an unhappy New Yorker’s journey to Italy, where she visits Juliet’s famous balcony that inspired Shakespeare. The protagonist, Sophie, writes a letter for “Juliet” and leaves it at the balcony. There she meets the Secretaries of Juliet, whose job it is to respond to the many letters. Sophie finds a letter written 50 years ago by a young girl named Claire. This discovery leads her to meeting Claire’s grandson Charlie, with whom she finds herself growing fonder and fonder of.
So, without further ado, here are the top lessons to take away from “Letters to Juliet”:
1. If you’re not happy, do something about it
Sophie had been the official fact-checker for The New Yorker for forever but was desperately longing to become a writer. She was ready to move on and do what she really loved in life. Except, she was too afraid to say anything.
That wasn’t the only unsatisfactory thing in her life, either. Sophie’s longtime boyfriend-turned-fiancee, Victor, was just so… meh. He was incredibly caught up in his work and job that, even on their couples trip, he completely forgot about her and her interests.
Sophie, the epitome of optimism and humbleness, dared not say anything to the people who blocked her from being completely happy and self-fulfilled. Not until the end of the movie did she finally speak up and achieve her goals and dreams.
There is always a way to what you want, to happiness. It is simply a matter of having enough courage to find it or to speak out. If you’re not particularly happy, do something about it. Because you deserve nothing less.
2. Take the time to talk to people
If Sophie hadn’t approached the Secretaries of Juliet in Juliet’s Courtyard, none of the film would have taken place. It was simply because Sophie approached them that the entire adventure and plot unfolded.
Nowadays, people are so ingrained in their phones, their laptops and their own selves to be remotely interested in the person sitting next to them in class or on the train or even standing next to them in line. It’s hard to remember that their story and background is as much of value as your own.
So, next time, strike up a conversation with the person next to you as you wait for your Starbucks or as you sit on the train. You never know who you might meet or what you might learn. Anything could happen.
3. Believe in your passions
Despite Sophie’s unaccomplished work endeavors, she firmly believed in herself as a writer. And the entire film ultimately came down to a series of events that led her from her love of writing to finding the love of her life.
When someone wholeheartedly believes in their passions in life, they will eventually find their proper place in the world. Find what makes your life meaningful and pursue it, because nothing bad ever comes from doing what you love most.
4. Don’t judge a book by its cover
A key element to this film is the obvious tension between Sophie and future love interest Charlie — that is, up until they realize they are madly in love with each other.
It is an unmistakable fact that occasionally, we tend to judge others. Whether we pass by them quickly on the street or they sit across from us in class, it’s just a thing we do because we’re human. That doesn’t mean it is right, though.
Next time, make a conscious effort not to have a sudden predisposition about someone pop into your head, whether it be negative or positive. Because, at the end of the day, we will never be able to truly know someone until we meet them and understand them.
5. Take the risk
Sophie took the risk to write a letter to Juliet, she took the risk to write her own story and give it to her editor and she took the risk to break it off with Victor and go to Charlie. In a way, you can say that the entire film is a following of Sophie’s risks as a non-risk-taker. But, imagine if she hadn’t been brave enough to take those risks. The film would have taken a completely different turn.
We come across many moments in our lives where we are given the option of security or the unknown. And, more often than not, we choose security because we have some sort of control over how everything will turn out.
Nothing terrible ever happened to the one who stayed indoors. But, nothing ever truly wonderful happened either. We don’t even know what we’re missing out on if we don’t step out and take the risk to wander into the unknown.