In the midst of a pandemic, reopening, and a world of change, there’s nothing more comforting than a textbook romance film. So we’re thrilled that The Last Letter From Your Lover is finally out on Netflix, and it is based on a book by none other than the classic romance novelist, Jojo Moyes.
Jojo Moyes has written romance novels that have gone viral over the last decade, but The Last Letter From Your Lover was one of her earlier romance novels as it came out in 2008. So what happens in the novel, and how does it compare to the movie?
‘The Last Letter From Your Lover’ is based on a 2008 novel by Jojo Moyes.
Many may know Jojo Moyes from her more recent work, such as the Me Before You trilogy and The Giver of Stars. The Last Letter From Your Lover — which Jojo wrote a few years earlier— ties directly into Jojo's own background in journalism. The story centers on two parallel love triangles in different time periods. One follows a journalist as she investigates some long-lost love letters she finds in the archives.
The journalist, Ellie (Felicity Jones), takes her new friend Rory (Nabhaan Rizwan) on a journey to discover what happened to the two lovers in correspondence.
At the same time, Ellie is dealing with her own affair with a married man who says he’ll leave his wife (but we know that will never happen). As Ellie learns more about the past lovers, so do we, but in their time and through their perspective.
The story in the past that Ellie brings to the present is the truly heart wrenching soul of The Last Letter From Your Lover. We meet Jennifer (Shailene Woodley) in the past after a near-fatal accident that alters her memory. Her cold husband, Lawrence (Joe Alwyn), claims that Jennifer lived a charmed life before her accident, but she doesn’t buy it.
So Jennifer goes on her own quest, discovering letters between herself and “B”, whom she nicknames Boot (Callum Turner), and eventually realizes she was planning to leave her husband. As both Jennifer and Ellie piece together this love story, we’re just hoping that Jennifer and Boot can somehow find each other in the present day.
‘The Last Letter From Your Lover’ movie has received lackluster reviews in comparison to the novel.
While the novel was highly regarded, as most Jojo Moyes novels are, The Last Letter From Your Lover movie falls flat for many fans of the book. Of course, this tends to happen for a lot of book-to-film adaptations — fans of Harry Potter, Gone Girl, and even Normal People have been disappointed by cinematic adaptations that tend to replace the reader’s own imaginings.
With romance novels, this can be especially tricky, since so much of what makes a romance novel great is our ability to put ourselves in the shoes of the main characters. The ability to really be inside of the characters’ heads and feel what they feel is essential, and that can be tricky to do in a film, let alone a film with two protagonists.
While the romance between Jennifer and Boot is captivating and fiery, the present-day story following Ellie lacks the same fire. Because filmmaker Augustine Frizzell had to fit an entire novel into one movie, some viewers may find the passionate chemistry lacking and the plot rather predictable.
Despite all this, we can’t help but bawl our eyes out at the formulaic finale of love winning.