The Last Letter from Your Lover 2021 Movie Review
In Augustine Frizzell’s “The Last Letter From Your Lover,” women have complicated relationships to their pasts — in more ways than one.
After surviving a collision, Jennifer Stirling (Shailene Woodley), a socialite wedded to a distinguished English diplomat (Joe Alwyn), loses her memory. Jenny’s frazzled by her husband’s stuffy demeanor — is she supposed to be in love with this man? — yet everyone insists she used to lead a charmed existence. Skeptical, Jenny sets out to uncover the mystery of her own life, unearthing a P.O. Box and a collection of love letters hidden away in her husband’s study.
From Jenny’s gilded 1960s milieu, we’re dumped into present-day London where a bedraggled journalist, Ellie Haworth (Felicity Jones), comes across the same letters while conducting research. A workaholic and reeling from a bad breakup, Ellie numbs the pain with messy one-night stands, though a charming archivist (Nabhaan Rizwan) chips away at her defensive veneer.
As both women gradually piece together the truth in their separate but interwoven timelines, the dreamy origins of Jenny’s affair with a reporter, Anthony O’Hare (Callum Turner), come into focus.
Adapted by Nick Payne and Esta Spalding from Jojo Moyes’s lengthy 2010 novel of the same name, “The Last Letter” is a compressed version of the romantic epic that cuts away all the rough edges, and with them, the longing and languorous feelings that uncontrollable passion entails. In short, it too efficiently glosses over multiple plotlines to have much of an emotional impact. What remains are mostly generic beats.
Still, the formula is engrossing enough, and its midcentury vintage appeal — the pillbox hats, headscarves and swanky soirees — is particularly seductive.
Ultimately, the past and present converge, yielding not a lesson on how radically different women overcome their painful histories, but a happy ending about the universal power of love — or whatever.