The Love Letter

5.51 h 27 min1999X-RayPG-13
Helen (Kate Capshaw) runs a bookstore in Loblolly By The Sea, a small fishing community in New England. A 42-year-old single mother, she is emotionally distant and fearful of getting too close to anyone. George (Tom Selleck) has known Helen since they were schoolmates, and he's been in love with her for ages, but has always settled for just being her friend.
Peter Chan
Kate CapshawBlythe DannerEllen DeGeneres
English [CC]
Audio languages

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Supporting actors
Julianne NicholsonTom Selleck
Kate CapshawBeau FlynnKaren KochSarah PillsburyMidge SanfordStefan Simchowitz
PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
Content advisory
Alcohol usefoul languagenuditysexual contentsmoking
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3.8 out of 5 stars

469 global ratings

  1. 58% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 10% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 7% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 6% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 20% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

OligonicellaReviewed in the United States on December 2, 2020
2.0 out of 5 stars
Busy, busy, busy.
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Story tried to tie way too many (7) people in the letter's web. Most of the actors were OK, a couple very good. Those you would expect. The locale and camera work were great.

The story line shallow and confusing instead of making you feel any sadness for the characters (especially the lead). Then there was the actual writing. It was hard to accept the people as real because there were just too many quips for chuckles thrown in, situational and verbal. Against the tenor of the story line, they fell short instead of being funny. Everyone saying and doing things, admittedly little things, that people just don't do got annoying fast.

There were a few small smiles and a couple of chuckles but a comedy it ain't.

My suspension of belief took its biggest hit on "Of course not, you're twenty.", said to a thirty year old. Would it have been so hard to find a twenty year old actor? I didn't know until she said it and after that, every time I saw him it was jarring. Yeah, he's got a baby-face but he still doesn't look twenty.

*** SPOILER ***

George sent at least five postcards to her and one, a mailer, contained a letter he wrote saying he wanted "to spend the rest of my life with you". It wasn't flat cardboard like the rest of the postcards, it was a paper sleeve.

My biggest problem was that 'postcard'. She never noticed the missive because she either never read any of the postcards he sent (she never responded), or she couldn't see the letter sticking out of the sleeve like I could. First thing I noticed about it. This, despite the card being paper instead of cardboard.

After she does finds it she keeps banging the twenty(30) year old.

She doesn't tell George she read it until the last time she sees him. He absorbs that information and turns to leave - "George, how will I reach you?"- and I love his response - "I'll send you a postcard.". She smiles. I love it because Selleck is good enough to convey both the thoughts of maybe sending it and of that being a way of saying "Why? You just told me you didn't bother reading the last ones."

I simply cannot generate any empathy or sympathy for her. Or the twenty(30) year old who got to bang his daydream (his boss) for the summer. Or the policeman who purloined the letter and fobbed it off as his own. Or her mother coming out as lesbian in the last stretch of the movie. Those last two were obviously inserted into the story as padding.

Only for George, who spend years pining after a woman who didn't give enough of a crap about him to read his postcards or respond if she did, or read his letter in the mailing sleeve. Although I don't feel all that much. He should have dropped her and moved on years prior.

No real romance, only humping and no comedy, only the drama.
2 people found this helpful
Chris EReviewed in the United States on July 13, 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars
Want to learn what epistolary means?
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Guys, who will grow up to be great men, would call The Love Letter a "chick movie." That warning out of the way, for more open-minded guys and the expected predominantly female audience for this movie, it is a summer-time joy that tangos around a New England seaside town definitely in the mood for love and a comedy of errors. It takes one letter to resuscitate dreams and shake the atrophy out of emotions bogged down by time and self-consciousness. When people are missing something in their emotional life, an anonymous letter can set all sorts of possibilities into action.
I am always suspicious when a story involves a young man wooing an older woman. Kate Capshaw makes me like Helen, the emotionally alienating/alienated female lead, more than I want. Tom Everett Scott makes Johnny's gangly romantic pursuits clumsy and earnest that is that much more romantic and sexy. Ellen DeGeneres knows where the funny is in simple things like book titles and condiments. Tom Selleck does it for me in this movie by being a vulnerable, funny, handsome fireman experiencing a rough patch but not afraid to go after his dreams later in life. The Louis Armstrong and tango music set the mood, with a short burst of Tosca to contrast it and scare a character or two into action. Personally, there is one poetic little moment where the Capshaw's voice is reading how the writer "burns" with love and the fireman is coming up the bookstore staircase seeming to give off smoke as an image continues to charm me. Peter Ho-Sun Chan directed a really fun film.
So, have a summer/chick film fest with this and a few other fun films on the subject of love like Branaugh's Much Ado About Nothing, 4 Weddings & a Funeral, Roxanne, or Philadelphia Story.
38 people found this helpful
LoloReviewed in the United States on June 26, 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars
A beautiful diamond in the rough
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(4.999 stars)
I first caught this movie on Cinemax a few years ago, and I was instantly enchanted. The story is about the discovery of an anonymous love letter in a small New England town. Everyone who finds it mistakenly thinks it was written from them, and so some wonderful romantic mishaps take place. There is also a bittersweetness to this tale, as one of the themes of the movie focuses on missed opportunities and what people don't say to each other. In that sense, this movie has almost an "independent" feel. It is also gorgeously filmed - the town is enchanting! And all of the characters are absolutely lovable!

Ellen Degeneres is a delightful wise-cracker and the perfect foil to Kate Capshaw's uptight book-maven. Their friendship is absolutely heart-breaking when they get into a fight over who the Love Letter really belongs to. But it is wonderful to see Kate's character, a self-professed emotional celibate, awaken to sensualism. Her growth from ice queen to hopeful romantic is absolutely beautiful, and it made me wonder how she hasn't commanded the screen more often.

Tom Selleck is wonderfully moving as the "average George" who is forever unconsciously turning his back on an opportunity for love and I just wanted to reach through the screen and shake him! But he does a great job with this character, and the twinkle in his eye with his last line made me realize the hope for love that imbues his and Helen's characters.

This movie will certainly move you to laughter and tears, and will leave you yearning from beginning to end.
10 people found this helpful
RosieReviewed in the United States on July 26, 2005
5.0 out of 5 stars
Picture a summer day in a provincial New England town . . .
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in a small, quaint bookshop, in which the paint is peeling from the mismatched bookcases, and the view of the sea below is as crisp and clear as it possibly can be from the wavy, leaded glass windows. Now picture coming back to this town every summer, visiting old friends, spending your Fourth of July evening at the local park. This movie is more about mood to me than anything. I watch it over and over every summer, wishing I could be a bookseller in Loblolly-by-the-Sea. I can almost smell the salty air and taste the lobster in the local restaurant. This film is a love letter to the romantic in all of us who wishes to spend time curled up with a good book (or movie) on a lazy summer day.

Capshaw is a perfect Helen. DeGeneres, a perfectly hilarious best friend. And Selleck is wonderful in this film, capturing the sensitive George. It makes me wonder why he doesn't take on more roles.

The only fault I find with this film is in the casting of Thomas Everett Scott ("That Thing You Do") as Johnny. He's a bit too mature-looking to play Helen's impetuous summer fling. No matter how many times I watch this movie, I'm never thorougly convinced he's right as the young college student.

Anyway, enjoy the film, soak up the mood, and I'll bet you'll come back again and again.
19 people found this helpful
P-JavieraReviewed in the United States on June 29, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
Nostalgia and a love letter!
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I liked the movie very much, and what I liked the most was the nostalgic feel and mood it brought to the screen. I miss those long and slow-living summer days . . . they seem so hard to find these days. The actors were well cast, with Kate Capshaw giving a wonderful and touching performance, and Tom Selleck as a regular nice guy, with a hidden and deep side to him. Ellen Degeneres gave a light-heartedness to the movie, and did a good job with some of her more sensitive lines on how the love-letter could have been meant for her. Then there were the two great actresses that added a bit of class towards the end -- Geraldine Mcewan and Blythe Danner -- as the long separated lovers, and the writer of that beautiful love letter that started it all. I truly enjoyed this slow moving and gentle film, with it's melodic music adding to the mood throughout. It's such a switch from the new trends of the lots of fast action, heavy sex scenes, and overdone violence that seem to dominate the screen these days. It was a nicely paced nostalgic view of warm and slow-living summer days. I would recommend it.
18 people found this helpful
M. KoliasReviewed in the United States on July 8, 2019
4.0 out of 5 stars
Silly but cute
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I was in my early-ish to mid 20's when this movie came out. I read the book it was based on and wanted to compare it. I liked the book better but that's usually the case. I loved the scenery and back then I really liked the movie. When Amazon Prime recommended this for me I was like Oh yeah, I remember this. My tastes have changed but this is still a cute if silly movie. Opinions differ and you should see some of the movie and decide for yourself instead of just listening to all the negative reviews. There are worse ways to spend your time. I wouldn't have paid to see this again but as part of Prime on a lazy afternoon, Why not?
2 people found this helpful
Terrence D CarlsonReviewed in the United States on June 22, 2019
2.0 out of 5 stars
Where's The Story?
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I went to bed disappointed that I had wasted 2 hours! Several interesting characters that you came to like, but there was no real story. The title "The Love Letter" suggests there might be a love story. There were 2 obvious and likeable couples, the main character, a 42-year old single mother book store owner (Kate Capshaw) and a mid-40s recently divorced Tom Selleck who had loved her most of his life. The other potential couple, a 20-year old male college student home from school for the summer and a cute "girl next door" type both of whom worked at the book store. But neither of these stories develop because the college student and the book store owner spend the summer sleeping with each other. When they separate at the end of the summer, Tom Selleck overhears the book store owner telling college boy that she loves him. After which everyone goes there separate way. The actual "Love Letter" makes it's way through several peoples hands and no one is quite sure who wrote it until the end when you find out that it was written by one old lady to another. They had both recently realized they were gay. So they were the only real love story but they were a minor part of the movie. So much potential and so much disappointment!
75 people found this helpful
Bonnie SingletonReviewed in the United States on March 18, 2021
4.0 out of 5 stars
Great light movie!
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Being a young adult in the late 1990's, I enjoyed this movie and seeing the styles and fashion. I also think people have forgotten what movies where like that weren't big budget hits. This was an excellent movie to watch when recuperating from surgery. Highly recommend for light weekend binge days.
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