Augustine Frizzell tapped into the more rebellious facets of her upbringing with her edgy 2018 feature debut Never Goin’ Back and the HBO series “Euphoria,” for which she directed the pilot episode.
Yet in recent years, the Dallas filmmaker’s life has felt more like the unapologetic romance of The Last Letter from Your Lover, Frizzell’s drama adapted from the Jojo Moyes novel that begins streaming this week on Netflix.
“I was looking for something that felt like comfort food,” Frizzell said. “I wanted to do something with love and rainbows and hot tea. I wanted something cozy, warm, and British.”
Thus the change of pace for Frizzell, whose new film will be released online exactly one week before The Green Knight — directed by her husband, David Lowery — debuts in theaters.
Don’t tell the couple that her film’s emphasis on handwritten love letters might seem antiquated given modern technology. They met briefly in 2001, went their separate ways for eight years, reunited for a dinner, and started a correspondence that deepened their relationship.
“It was very similar to my courtship with David,” she said. “When we were writing letters to each other, there was nothing better in the world than receiving something in the mail from him, and seeing his handwriting and the way he connected with me through paper. It was such a great conduit for his thoughts and emotions.”
The Last Letter from Your Lover follows parallel stories of two young women searching for fulfillment in their relationships. In the present day, Ellie (Felicity Jones) is an ambitious London journalist who stumbles upon a series of love letters from 1965. She becomes obsessed with uncovering the details of a 50-year-old affair between an industrialist’s wife (Shailene Woodley) and a writer (Callum Turner), along the way falling for the archivist (Nabhaan Rizwan) helping her solve the puzzle.
“When I read the script, I cried at the end,” Frizzell said. “It’s never too late to have love. It’s never too late to try anything. It’s scary to be in your mid-30s, when you’ve been in a relationship for so long, and you’re a woman with a ticking biological clock, and you’re not quite happy enough. You want to take a leap and try.”
The film finds Frizzell not only working within a new genre, but also benefiting from a bigger budget than her previous projects. Production took place in late 2019 on the Spanish island of Mallorca, as well as various locations around London.
“When we set up to make Never Goin’ Back, we had so little money,” Frizzell said. “As soon as you get those toys, you feel this level of freedom. There are still limitations, but I’m always dreaming up ridiculous things to do. It’s exciting to have the means to make that possible.”
Frizzell, who grew up in Garland, hopes the story’s appeal will span geographic and generational boundaries while also perpetuating the heartfelt value of letters, such as those that eventually led to her own marriage 11 years ago.
“I didn’t know if David thought of me as more than a friend,” she said. “At one point, I thought I was either going to be so heartbroken when we met in person, or I was going to meet the love of my life. It was just a matter of taking that leap.”