The Love Letter (1998) movie review

I’m pretty sure I’ve seen most of The Lake House, the 2006 film about time travelling letters that reunited Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock for the first time since Speed.  Before everyone was bored to tears by this star-studded romance through time, there was The Love Letter, a Hallmark TV movie that has nearly the same plot and rather than being stupid, it’s just kinda insane. 

If you’re the sort of person who wonders what happened to Campbell Scott after Singles, well, you’d think nothing good since he’s in this movie, but he did have critical success with Big Night before he made this movie, but… I dunno.  I guess he pissed off the wrong people in Hollywood, because, again, Hallmark TV movie, his resume is short, etc.

I get the impression that Jennifer Jason Leigh got tired of being famous and decided she was only going to do things she liked… or pissed off the wrong people in Hollywood.  I kinda think it’s the former (take a look at what she did in the 2000s), so I’m going to assume that JJL is either a big fan of The Love Letter short story or she got the script and loved it…

Either way, the fact that these two actors appeared in this movie tells you a lot about them.

So, this movie’s plot functions based on letters traveling over 100 years through time.  Who would have guessed magic mail was such a popular movie plot device?  I think that ultimately, it’s the stationary that is magic… or maybe the post office… and the desk… you know what, it’s just magic.  The movie features all of the excitement of:

  • Protagonists matched up with love interests that are so despicable that no one in the audience believes for even a second that they’ll end up being together at the end of the movie.
  • Protagonists falling in love via extremely boring letters.  (Which begs the question, should the movie be called The Love LetterS?)
  • The fire at the post office scene and the ticking clock plot device via time traveling mail.
  • The intense flatness via which Elizabeth’s “intended” is drawn. Worst character ever.  (Cool hat, though.)
  • Campbell Scott’s fiancees’ facial expressions – that is all.

The Love Letter isn’t poorly structured nor does it contain gaping plot holes, but it just kinda sucks in a general way.  The story is beyond believable and the supporting characters only exist for plot and expositional purposes – they might as well hold up their lines on cue cards.  It’s not the worst TV movie I’ve ever seen, but I can only recommend it to film fanatics who either love these actors or for those who would be excited to learn that there is a slightly better (but crazier) version of The Lake House roaming around on YouTube.  The Love Letter is watchable and without serious structural flaw… and that’s about it – 4 out of 10.

About Jamie Insalaco

Jamie Insalaco is the author of, and editor in chief of

Posted on June 8, 2015, in movie review and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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