- Movie Rating -

Love Letters (1984)

| January 27, 1984

I wrestled with my feelings for Love Letters until the very end.  I’ve seen so many movie like this about people who have affairs or are betrayed or fall in love with the wrong person that kept waiting for this movie to trip over its own feet.  This is a movie about a woman who falls in love with a married man and begins and affair and paired down, I might have been down on it because so many of these films are about the affair and not the emotions involved.  This one is determined to be different than that.

Part of what works is that the woman involved is a fully-realized soul, a career woman named Anna who works as an announcer for public radio in San Francisco.  She’s good at her job, so good that she is given a job opportunity.  She doesn’t take the job however because she has met someone, a good and intelligent man named Oliver (James Keach).  Their attraction to one another is in the heart and the head and eventually the bedroom.  It is rare in a movie to have all three. 

While she is having the affair, she is also mourning the death of her mother and while cleaning out her things comes across a series of love letters revealing that her mother once had an affair not too far removed from the one, she is having with Oliver.  The letters are read to us in narration by her mother’s former lover who kept the affair going on for many years.

This sounds like the stuff of well-thumbed romantic novels that line the walls of second-hand bookstores, but what amazed me was that the story kept building.  Anna’s mother’s letters are counter-point to the affair that she is having and work as a sort of human guide print not of how to have an affair but of the emotional content that is contained in such a union.  Anna’s approach to the affair begins to change as she leaves the sexual component and really begins to fall in love with Oliver.  That complication takes us into some very dark and unexpected places as she begins to demand more of him.

I was shocked how involved that I got with this story, with these characters and how beautifully written Anna is as a human being.  What she and Oliver are doing is, of course, wrong but you sense the real complications involved.  Yes, they have a passionate love affair but it is not a melodrama created in all manner of stagey phoniness.  We believe these people.  We believe the world in which they exist and we want what is best for them.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1984) View IMDB Filed in: Drama