6.0/10
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10 user 3 critic

Love Letters (1983)

Anna is a young woman who discovers her mother had an affair with a married man for 15 years, so she starts her own affair with a married man. She works for a Los Angeles public radio ... See full summary »

Director:

Amy Holden Jones
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jamie Lee Curtis ... Anna
Bonnie Bartlett ... Maggie / Anna's mother
Matt Clark ... Chuck / Anna's father
James Keach ... Oliver / Anna's lover
Bud Cort ... Danny
Amy Madigan ... Wendy
Brian Wood Brian Wood ... Frank
Phil Coccioletti Phil Coccioletti ... Ralph Glass
Larry Cedar ... Jake
Michael Villella Michael Villella ... Oliver's client
Jeff Doucette ... Hippie #1
Sally Kirkland ... Hippie #2
Betsy Toll Betsy Toll ... Marcia Newell
Lyman Ward ... Morgan Crawford
Shelby Leverington ... Edith
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Storyline

Anna is a young woman who discovers her mother had an affair with a married man for 15 years, so she starts her own affair with a married man. She works for a Los Angeles public radio station. She often must care for her alcoholic father and comply with his many demands. When she finds love letters, revealing her mother's longtime involvement with someone else, she develops a romantic notion of the idea as something suitable for herself. She meets a photographer, Oliver, who is happily married and a father. Their physical attraction is immediate and they begin a torrid affair, but he cautions her from the start that he has no intention of leaving his family. She has no objection, enjoying the sex and intimacy for the time being, until feelings develop and she begins to desire a permanent relationship, intruding on his privacy in the process, with unhappy consequences for all. In the end she finally meets the man her mother had an affair with and she decides to take a job offer at a ... Written by lament

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Sometimes It's Right To Do the Wrong Thing.

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

27 April 1984 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

My Love Letters See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$550,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$5,269,990

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$5,269,990
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Millenium See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Goofs

After Anna is pulled from the bathroom crying, and she's lying in bed while Oliver sits on the edge of the bed explaining how he feels about his marriage, the boom mic keeps poking in from above. See more »

Connections

Referenced in My Time with Terror with Jamie Lee Curtis (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

Prelude #15
by Frédéric Chopin (as Chopin)
Constance Keene, pianist
Protone Records
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Cynical Reagan Era commentary on "luvvvv"
28 November 2005 | by carmenjonze-1See all my reviews

One need not watch the movie to know how this story ends: "love" doesn't matter and is totally irrelevant to anything. The cards are always stacked against The Other Person. Always. Happily, we have Love Letters to never let us forget.

If you're going to watch this movie for "!! HOT JLC topless scenes !!", you're missing out. If you're watching it to complete your Roger Corman collection, you're really missing out.

Watch it if you like feeding the geese on the river.

Watch it if you've lived a little and realize that the idea of "true love" is the product of an empty, irreconcilable lack.

But whatever you do, don't watch it for the soundtrack. Synthesized marimbas and glockenspiels, and Ralph Jones's proto-Michael Nyman piano arrangements will ruin any seriousness the movie tries to impart.

Watch it instead for the utterly bleak commentary on male-female relations, whether father/daughter, colleague/colleague, girlfriend/boyfriend and especially husband/wife.

If you're a JLC die-hard -- or at least the kind of JLC die-hard who knows there is more to life than chasing after upper torso shots -- consider also the connections to Blue Steel (1990). Particularly the retribution fantasies against an abusive (and in this case, also anti-Asian racist, and alcoholic) father, as well as the theme of a young intelligent heterosexual woman, as yet completely unable to make any intelligent choices with regards to the males in her life. No doubt, reassuring for the anti-feminist/giggling misogynist crowd. Though, unlike Megan Turner, Anna does have at least one normal relationship, with her close friend Wendy, who seems to have traveled around a few blocks in her life and is truly capable of offering her some advice.

Instead, in Love Letters, Anna's rejection of a conspicuous but understated incestuous desire on the part of a father wracked by inadequacy issues -- that beleaguered slob, fool enough to marry for that eternal game of whack-a-mole called "love" -- is implied by her consistent impatience with his violence, alcoholism, racism, and inappropriate physical proximities. To complete the cycle-to-be-broken, a flashback to her father repeating the same confused admonitions he'd yelled at Anna earlier that night: "What did I do, did I touch you!", "You're just like her!!" in a scene of domestic violence. Was her mother's 15 year long affair the cause of his enraged, repressed wino-nastiness, or a result, or totally unconnected altogether? The audience is rather effectively left to guess.

There are also a couple throwbacks to Halloween (1978) as JLC plays another dorked-out though successful "geek girl" type - what 22 year old in 1983 Los Angeles is going to be a DJ who spins Beethoven and likes electronic drone music?? Right on to that! We're also left to wonder about that 5 inch scar on Anna's left arm, hmm..hey wait, where'd that come from, gee...

Thumbs up also to: the poster for Dance Theater of Harlem in the radio station, the early tablecore from the old Alpha Syntauri Computer Music System, and the quasi-intellectual nods to Walter Benjamin and Peter Berger.

Though Love Letters ends by wrapping itself in conventional wisdom, the moral of this story is actually somewhat progressive, especially for the culturally reactionary Reagan/Bush/Thatcher/Botha mid-80s: While socially-imposed conservative conventionality is not a prerequisite for "love", the chemistry between the two individuals is crucial (I observed very little in the Curtis-Keach mushy-porn screw scenes, in which Anna gets zero on-screen enjoyment or reciprocation, and believe it was intentional.) Reversing the gender roles, as Anna lives out her affair as dictated by love letters written by a man who has experienced such chemistry, won't work, either. If he ever leaves her for you, the cards will always be stacked against The Other Woman.

Oh yes, and don't get involved with clueless, pretentious, suburban Porsche-driving married jerks who claim they are "fans", either. They will only end up consoling you with that ancient "you can do better than me" line.

Don't fall for it, honey. Go out with that dorky, San Francisco-bound colleague with the glasses, instead; the one who really loves you. That's the only type of guy who can keep up with you, anyway. 7.5/10.


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