The Last Letter From Your Lover (3 stars)

The Last Letter From Your Lover

Shailene Woodley, Callum Turner and Felicity Jones star in this headily romantic drama

If you like your romance spread extra thick then The Last Letter From Your Lover from director Augustine Frizzell will suit you just fine. Those averse to outlandish heartache and the batting of super-sized lashes should probably seek their kicks elsewhere.

Shailene Woodley is shrouded with mystery as Jennifer Stirling, a housewife in mid-60s London who is unhappily married to Joe Alwyn's chilly industrialist. When she returns home from hospital following a car accident with no recollection of recent events, her memories are triggered by the discovery of a love letter from another man who, it transpires, she was all set to run away with.

The lover in question is journalist Anthony O'Hare (Callum Turner) and their clandestine courtship is revealed in flashback. The story is also pieced together in the present day by another reporter, Ellie (Felicity Jones), who stumbles upon the letters by accident and enlists the help of jobsworth archivist Rory (Nabhaan Rizwan), with the pair ultimately generating their own sparks.

Frizzell's film will tick a lot of boxes for fans of tortured love stories and period style and there's an almost Sirkian beauty to some of the 60s sequences, with the gorgeous cinematography, locations and tailoring, and a fine cast, making it very watchable indeed. Woodley's delicate performance style and ability to impactfully communicate her gut-wrenching sadness can be quite captivating – she knows how to do melodrama without uttering a word. Turner is charming enough and Jones and Rizwan are a very cute couple, with Ellie's slightly hapless antics giving a bit of a Bridget Jonesy feel to some of the modern scenes.

However, there are far too many cringing contrivances peppered throughout, and as it slightly madly throws tear-jerking and feelgood elements into the pot you might assume this is a case of film creation by committee. Instead, it's based on the book by popular romance novelist Jojo Moyes, with a screenplay by Nick Payne and Esta Spalding. Moyes is responsible for Me Before You, which was made into a pretty terrible film starring Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin, though anyone who sat through that can breathe a sigh of relief as this isn't anywhere near as annoying. It's pretty as a picture and full of feeling, while romantics will no doubt swoon.

Available to watch in cinemas from Friday 6 August.

The Last Letter from Your Lover

  • 3 stars
  • 2021
  • 1h 50min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Augustine Frizzell
  • Written by: Nick Payne
  • Cast: Shailene Woodley, Felicity Jones, Joe Alwyn
  • UK release: 6 August 2021

After finding a collection of love letters in the 1960s, journalist Ellie Haworth (Felicity Jones) sets out to uncover the mysterious affair enclosed within them. As she does, a love story of her own begins to unfold.