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Reviews & Ratings for
The Letter More at IMDbPro »

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8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

I've seen better pretentious local theatre

Author: Mary Ann from Canada
27 February 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I watched the entire film waiting for a payoff. Through the discordant piano key jangling that was the soundtrack, through the dreary, dreary set, repetitive dialogue, artsy camera cuts and through it all, I was thinking of something we joke about at my book club. When a book is self important, draggy and boring, we always tell someone to google the writer to see if it was written by a college almost always is.

At the end of this film, I was feeling cheated out of two hours of my life and I couldn't wait to get to IMDb to check the writer. College professor...and not just any professor, James Franco's professor.

Ryder and Franco were irrelevant in this film as it was all about the dialogue. Ryder's role as play-write allowed the dialogue to be repeated over and over ad nauseum. It would have been an effective device had the dialogue been worth listening to once, let alone over again.

Good actors were unnecessary in this film as their major contribution was to flash looks at each other. The camera went from one to the next for an hour like a stale SNL sketch...worried look glancing at another actor, horrified look, puzzled look, knowing look, insane look... Culminating in the big payoff...


Ryder's character totally breaks down, weeping on a stranger and seeing him as someone else, then screaming and wondering why he was touching her. Jangling discordant piano reaches a crescendo and we cut to a doctor explaining that dumdumdummmmmb she's not insane, she's had poison powder from South America that makes you tell the truth. They blow the powder into the victims face...she's been exposed over a long period and the effect of long term exposure causes neurological problems. Ryder, looking startled and wide eyed looks out through gauzy curtains, daydreams a beach walk as dialogue happens ...fade to black and the viewer shaking their heads in disgust that this "horror" movie was just a poorly written attempt at art....we know it when we see it and this isn't it.

"And I heard now, for the first time, the silver breath of wind in the ash tree whispering above me as I saw the shadows of the slender leaves tremble against the skin on my leg"

A whole movie of dialogue just like yourself two hours and rent anything else with any of these actors in it.

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

A contrived, sincere, but very limited film

Author: secondtake from United States
1 December 2013

The Letter (2012)

Wow, such mixed reviews on this movie. Either all thumbs up or bomb? No, but it is weirdly both terrific and horrible at once. Here's my explanation why.

This is a re-shaped reality movie in the same big (and growing) genre as "Memento" and "Pulp Fiction." As the movie progresses you are made to figure out what's going on in the most basic sense, separating reality from hallucination from moviemaker's trickery. This is a gripping game at its best that draws you into the dilemma from the character's standpoint, and that also messes with the viewer's basic ability to create sense of it for it's own sake.

But what these movies require is a combination of characters you care about and a logic that is purely cemented by the end. The two earlier examples are brilliant at it. Not so "The Letter."

This movie has the bones of an excellent, lower-budget variation on a reality bending plot, but it fails to make the characters significant (or sympathetic in any way) and it never makes the illogic within the movie reasonable.

This might give something away, but near the end a big sweeping explanation is frankly provided by a doctor, and I told myself I've been wasting an hour making sense of what is really a series of fairly jumbled impressions. They don't quite make sense, I think, though you might be able to chart out the various mixed up sections on a piece of paper if you watched it a couple more times. Maybe.

But no one would have the stamina. It's a movie with an exterior of brilliance but it's so stripped down in its other components it's actually, oddly, boring. For one thing, most of the action happens on a theater stage, which allows a kind of reality within a reality (and this ain't new, as lovers of Shakespeare know). Quickly we see that the characters are getting mixed up with the actors—that is, from the point of view of the writer/director of the play in the film, played by Winona Ryder, the expressions and frustrations in the script of the play echo the reality of the real people. When scenes shift (often suddenly) to an apartment or other outside space, the same kinds of personae are at work. The people are the characters.

But they have almost nothing to do, no real baggage to explore, no narrative elements that matter. So there is an implied infidelity (who knows?) and a bit of concern about that, and maybe an infidelity that grows as the film is being assembled, perhaps (who knows?). But so what?

The final insult to all this is that film's low budget feel and its unwillingness to accept that—it tries to look bigger than it is. It's often filmed in a stale way, and then pumped up with tonal effects or with startling (or confusing) edits. You wish it would add up to something, but it doesn't.

Other reviewers have said that it all makes sense by the end. I think not. I think it's explained away at the end, but that's different. And either way it doesn't amount to a hill of beans.

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9 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Total Garbage. Waste of time.

Author: blakecpa from United States
25 October 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

One of the worst movies I've seen in a long time. It is total garbage. Absolutely nothing goes on for the better part of 90 minutes. There are a lot of artsy scenes, floaty music scores, and incredibly boring (but supposedly deep) moments, all probably trying to make the case that this is an important and meaningful movie. Nothing could be further from the truth. It's film school crap...freshman year of film school. Then, at the end of the movie, you find out Rider's character is nuts.


If you need to do something for 90 minutes, spend your time more wisely and go get a root canal.

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16 out of 28 people found the following review useful:

A movie that seemed artsy for the sake of being artsy. Tried it's hardest to be "Black Swan" but fell a little short. I say B-

Author: Tony Heck ( from United States
24 September 2012

"On that first night of course we didn't know who you were, or what you would do to us, or what you would do to me." Martine (Ryder) is a New York playwright who is getting a chance to direct her boyfriend in a new play she wrote. Soon after rehearsals begin an unknown actor, Tyrone (Franco) shows up and begins to cause tension. His acting is good but he is hostile to everyone except Martine. While the rehearsals are going on Martine begins to become paranoid and thinks someone is trying to kill her. Her re-writes of the play begin to confuse the actors and the line between life and paranoia are blurred. First of all I will say this is not terrible but this is another movie that tries to be artsy for the sake of being artsy. I find the easiest way to describe movies sometimes are to compare them to others that many have seen. I open with that because it seemed like this movie tried it's hardest to be like "Black Swan" but never quite making it. Very limited scenery and actors but the main focus is on Martine's slow descent into madness. You begin to question if she is just overly paranoid or if her concerns are legit. This is the type of movie that keeps you wondering about that which helps you make it through. Overall, an OK movie but tried to be artsy for the sake of being artsy. I give it a B-.

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11 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Yes, a movie that makes you think

Author: faithisagoodthing from United Kingdom
30 October 2012

When I first saw the trailer for this movie on YouTube, I like many thought are you joking.

The quality of the trailer was shockingly bad but I was still intrigued because I loved James Franco's work and as well as a welcome return in a leading role by Winona Ryder, since I have been a fan of her work for many years.

Though, as it has already been stated, this movie is not to everyone's taste, but I'm not sure why this movie has such a low rating either? When you actually watch the movie, the quality seems to be alright.

Yes, it has extremely complex levels of dreams by Winona's character (Martine), yet still very much entertaining. I thought the whole cast acted strongly and were great.

It kind of reminded me somewhat of elements of Black Swan, Inception and Francophrenia especially in terms of levels.

Sometimes, people classify movies as bad, if they can't breakdown the story quickly but I still felt the character's were warm.

However, I appreciate a movie that makes you think, and if a repeat viewing is necessary then why not? Anyway, I don't really want to give any spoilers away but I do think more people should view this movie and form their own opinions on the conclusion.

It's actually not the worst movie you could ever see and I enjoyed it but maybe, I'm biased because I love James and Winona. Seriously, it deserves a higher rating.

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15 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

One word: Genius

Author: karin a
19 January 2013

I'm not surprised that such a movie is underrated in the culture of the hunger games and 3d Movies. I never expected I would ever see again a high standard movie and after the movie was over I was shocked.. without spoiling this movie reflects almost accurately that 'situation' Martin finds herself in. I longed for such films which leave a need to think and criticize reality as it is.. what is a dream..are we we see everything as we should..This movie is no less then dogville in style. I hail Winona ryder for her honest and excellent acting. I think this is her best movie!

Definitely worth watching!

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Worst movie I have seen

Author: Alex Macey
25 November 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This was by far the worst movie I have ever seen. I can't believe that I wasted 5 dollars on this movie. I kept waiting for the movie to get better and it never did. Absolutely nothing went on in the movie. Rider just talks in a depressing voice about I don't what, because she was too depressing for me to continue listening. The only interesting part of the movie was the few seconds when the viewers found out that she was drugged and that was the end of the movie. All I know is that the main character, Winona, was the director of a play with 4 characters, one of which is her boyfriend. At one point, the main character accuses her boyfriend of putting copper in his gym bag, he denies it and they go back and forth about it for a few seconds and the whole thing is dropped. And it's never followed up, unless, of course, I missed it. There are so many scenes like this that are never followed up, but I had to keep watching because I was hoping that it would get better.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

The Descent of Winona

Author: cheynesn from United States
27 October 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

While "The Letter" is certainly a film that thankfully didn't hit theaters (despite its $10 million budget), that's not to say that it's complete trash.

The film, which stars Winona Ryder as Martine, a playwright who slowly begins to lose her mind and descend into madness. The film primarily takes place in the theatre, and things begin to change when Tyrone (James Franco), joins the group and displays hostile behavior to those surrounding him, while Martine develops a growing attraction toward him. Sound familiar? The film is very reminiscent of "Black Swan," Ryder's comeback role in which she played the fading ballerina. While that film garnered critical acclaim and box-office success, its safe to say that "The Letter" director Jay Anania was attempting to do the same. And that's where Winona Ryder came in. Her casting was probably one of the strategies Anania used in order to attract art house audiences. (Too bad the film went straight to DVD.) "The Letter" isn't a film that's complete trash, rather, there were quite a few perks in it that made it interesting. For one, Ryder never fails to impress me. Despite the unusual camera angles and amateur lighting, she still manages to shine through and deliver a solid performance. I'd also like to mention that she's Forty ONE and still looks good! While the lackluster script prevents her from flaunting the acting skills she's capable of, Ryder nevertheless convinces the audience that someone (in the five person cast) is trying to poison her character and kill her. And as the relationship between her and her thespian boyfriend begins to disenigrate, she changes the fictional names of the characters in the script to the respective names of the actors portraying them. Her character also includes actual dialogue that has recently happened in her life. This was also one of the techniques used by Anania to convey Martine's descent into madness.

Franco, on the other hand, had no purpose of being in the film. Anania, who heads the directing program at NYU, is also one of Franco's professors, which most likely explains his involvement. I'm sure Franco got a few extra credit points for his (probably unwilling) participation in this 'little film that could.' Toward the end of the film, it is revealed that Martine is just plain crazy, and that was the reason for her bizarre actions and behavior. This ultimately took away from what could've been a great ending that makes the audience think about what was really going on. Here, her sickness was explained, whereas in "Black Swan," Natalie Portman's character isn't diagnosed schizophrenic, and lets the audience decide that for themselves. In "The Letter," Mr. Sound Effects decided to include the sound of an abrupt braking of a truck after every change in behavior Martine displays. What could have made this effect better was a fluid dramatic score that conveyed her madness.

So yes, "The Letter" isn't the greatest film of Ryder's career, however, it stands as a test of her acting skills, and she succeeds. She compensates for the lackluster script and plot, while managing to convince us of her character's madness. As a fan of psychological thrillers, I was a bit disappointed with this film, and even though it lacks originality, it's definitely worth seeing.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Total Rubbish!

Author: leonblackwood from United Kingdom
15 February 2014

Review: What a complete load of rubbish! With a name like Obsessed and a cast with James Franco and Winona Ryder, I was expecting something interesting and entertaining, but this was really bad. Most of the film was set on stage with Winona Ryder directing a play, which was really bad, and on top of that, you've got Winona Ryder narrating the whole story. I really can't see what the director was trying to achieve with this film because there isn't much point to it. I can understand the twist which comes out at the end, but by that time I deliberately made myself busy so I could get through the annoying pile of rubbish. The stupid piano that's going through the whole movie is really annoying and the mood if depressing. Just stay away from the film!

Round-Up: I darn see why the hell James Franco and Winona Ryder agreed to doing this film because the script is appalling. Maybe they were just paying bills. Ever since Winona Ryder got caught thieving, her career has gone from bad to worse, and this movie isn't going to so her any favours. She's need a film like Beetlejuice 2 to bring her our of the dark. As for James Franco, I always knew that he does quirky movies, but I really can't see why he would want this film on his filmography. Anyway, I really can't find anything good to say about this film because there is nothing interesting or entertaining about it.

Budget: $10million (Waste Of Money!) Worldwide Gross: N/A

I recommend this movie anyone that wants to get bored to death. 1/10

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A bore

Author: Gordon-11 from Earth
5 October 2014

This film tells the story of a female playwright, who is preparing for the opening of her play. She experiences weird occurrences, and she begins to doubt her sanity.

"The Letter" tries to be super artistic, as evidenced by super slow pace and the substitution of scenes with narration by the main character, I wish there was no narration, and they just show the events normally. The narration is plain and devoid of emotion, it does not give the first person emotional account that is expected. Winona Ryder does not look convincing as a playwright or as a crazy person. In fact, she looks to pretty and too sane for her role. The so called suspense fails miserably, because the strange events are presented in such subtle manner. There is no intensity, engagement or thrill. The whole film is a complete bore. I don't understand the beginning, middle or the end. The suppose twist at the end is so laughable and unbelievable, because there is no motive described anywhere in the film. Even when taking the low budget into account, "The Letter" could have bee so much better.

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