Helen MacFarquhar, a divorcee, runs a quaint and cozy bookstore in the sleepy New England town of Loblolly. She’s attractive. Physically fit. And perfectly content with her single lifestyle. That is, until an anonymous love letter appears on her counter one day. The romantic words, “Dearest, do you know how in love with you I am?” tug at her otherwise hardened heartstrings, motivating her to seek out the identity of her secret admirer. Could it be George, her high school pal? Or was it Jonny, the college kid home for the summer? And that’s just the beginning of her list! Before long, the letter changes hands—again and again—leading other characters in this true-to-form “small town” atmosphere to believe that the passionate prose was meant for them.
Positive Elements: College students Jonny and Jen both seem to have a sincere appreciation for literature. Jen’s crush on Jonny motivates her to invite him in after their dinner date. But because their feelings aren’t mutual, Jonny opts to keep a safe distance—dropping her off in front of her house instead. However, it should be noted that Jonny fails to practice such sexual restraint (see sexual content) with his boss, Helen. In another subplot, Helen eventually seeks reconciliation with long-time friend and co-worker Janet after the two exchange hurtful comments. And George tries to be honest, patient and candid with Helen about his long-standing feelings for her.
Spiritual Content: In a passing comment, Janet suggests putting crystals and an occasional palm reader into the store’s marketing mix.
Sexual Content: Helen and Jonny are the main, although not exclusive, participants in this film’s sexual escapades. One scene finds them passionately kissing. Jonny begins unbuttoning Helen’s blouse. Later, the two are seen having sex on the bathroom floor. Another scene finds these two dancing in their underwear—a scene which ends up in the bedroom. Helen awakes from this encounter just in time to jump out of bed (bare behind showing) and throw on a dress to go to the opera with George. Janet spouts crass sexual comments on more than one occasion. A young boy is caught gawking at a pornographic picture in Helen’s bookstore. Moviegoers catch more than a glimpse.
Homosexual Content: Helen’s first guess at her secret admirer’s identity is her co-worker and friend Janet (remember, Janet is played by openly gay actress, Ellen Degeneres). In the end, it is discovered that the love letter was composed years ago by the eccentric Miss Scattergoods. The recipient? Helen’s mother. As she plainly explains it to her daughter, “There you are, Mommy’s a dyke.”
Crude or Profane Language: As mentioned above, Janet blurts out sexually-charged comments on several occasions. Two uses of the f-word. Several other mild profanities and inappropriate uses of the Lord’s name surface as well.
Drug and Alcohol Content: Social drinking and smoking occur throughout. At one point, the love-sick Jonny finds solace in shots and cigarettes with Miss Scattergoods.
Summary: Once again, Hollywood has taken a seemingly innocent and fun-loving story line and turned it on its head with promiscuity and confused sexual orientations. The Love Letter clearly joins the ever-growing list of films (My Best Friend’s Wedding; In & Out; Cruel Intentions; Election) that attempt to move society’s thinking one step closer to accepting homosexual relationships as normal.