"The Love Letter" takes place in a dreamy kind of New England town called Loblolly by the Sea, the kind of vacation resort
that exhibits a "sweetness and light" overview to visitors but usually is "Peyton Place" underneath. Only this time around the
carousings are not deep and dark but flippant and delightful. I might note that if you are, let's say, under 30--and never loved or
truly lost--the movie will be unrelentlessly dull but once you've walked the bumpy road to love, "The Love Letter" will be a
And that's what the movie is all about, an undated love letter mixed in with the mail, a letter that surfaces one afternoon in the
home of Helen--played marvelously by Kate Capshaw--an attractive divorced woman in her 40s who runs a local bookstore
and appears to spend her leisure hours in jogging.
The letter is well-written, ardent in tone, certainly not salacious in content, but obviously from somebody who cares deeply
about Helen--or so she thinks. And like those marvelous round-robin French movies of the 30s and 40s, where an earring or a
fan goes from person to person or couple to couple, this letter makes the rounds of the main characters, each one believing the
letter is from the last person they've met.
Along with Capshaw, the cast features Johnny (played by Tom Everett Scott), a 20-year-old college student who has a
summer job in the bookstore. He, of course, thinks the letter is from Helen and she from Johnny, and they immediately fall into
a passionate autumn meets spring love affair--a theme rare in puritanical America.
Meanwhile, we meet George (well played by a mature Tom Selleck), a guy whose been in love with Helen since high school
together and who is now in the final angonies of a divorce and Janet, who also works in the bookstore (played by Ellen
DeGeneres), who lends a pleasant wise-cracking tone in a rose that used to be played by Eve Arden.
Finally we are introduced to Helen's mother and grandmother, in the person of Blythe Danner and Gloria Stewart, and the plot
thickens for, as it turns out, the letter while unsigned, is, of course, undated, too. Directed by Peter Ho-sun Chan, and
produced partly by Miss Capshaw, the folks I shared the theatre with for this movie, sat still until the credits were over, the
music stopped, and the lights came on. )