'Letters to Juliet' is funny, charming and touching

Letters to Juliet is an affable romantic comedy travelogue. It's about Sophie, a New Yorker magazine fact-checker, who has ambitions to write.

She's engaged but not really engaged — get it? Nevertheless, she and fiancé Victor have decided to take a pre-honeymoon honeymoon to Verona, the city of Romeo and Juliet. She seeks romance; he, a chef about to open a restaurant, is interested in checking out his food and wine suppliers and picking up secrets of Italian recipes.

Victor (Gael García Bernal) is not without charms, but they aren't often enough directed at Sophie. In his absence, she happens upon a group of Italian women known as Juliet's secretaries. They answer letters that young women have tucked in the stone wall under the famed balcony, seeking advice about their love lives.

Helping out as Victor pursues his other passion, Sophie discovers a note hidden for a half-century. It's from Claire, a British exchange student who didn't have the courage to run off with her local Romeo, Lorenzo.

Sophie crafts a reply, saying it's not too late. She never expects it to reach its intended destination. Suddenly, though, 60-something Claire (the great Vanessa Redgrave) shows up with her handsome blond grandson, Charlie (Aussie actor Christopher Egan). Determined to find Lorenzo, Claire, skeptical Charlie and Sophie set out on a road trip in the picturesque Italian countryside.

They meet a number of older Lorenzos. Charlie and Sophie don't get along, but that will change. Amanda Seyfried, as Sophie, gives us somebody to root for. And any performance by Redgrave is worth checking out.

If you have even a smidgen of the romantic in you, Letters to Juliet can fill the bill — or at least make you want to visit a vineyard.

Letters to Juliet retails for $26.99, or $40.99 on Blu-ray.