I just finished writing this and I need to warn you about how many italics and feelings you are about to confront. I am not apologizing for them, I am just warning you that they are there.
We’re still in Washington. It’s still beautiful. I have applied for more jobs than I can remember. Nate has had some health problems the past month that has made us sorely miss the health care we had in South Korea.
I have watched You’ve Got Mail twice in two days. Nate’s parents have a lot of channels and it keeps coming on. It’s on again and I’m recording it to watch later.
I love You’ve Got Mail.
Actually? forget Limbo week 3. let’s talk about You’ve Got Mail.
- It occupies the highest position in my holy trinity of Meg Ryan films (the other two being French Kiss and Sleepless in Seattle, duh.)
- Nora Ephron. The writing. It’s genius. It’s commentary on how words and writing connect us and help us grow, but how love needs more than that. Listen: Shopgirl and NY152 fall in love through writing. But that’s all they have. They just trade sweet and witty editorials that are so real and lovely and relatable, on things like school supplies and Starbucks, and Pride and Prejudice.But the reality is that due to the medium of communication they never really have conversations. So technically it’s all platonic, and all nothing. But of course it isn’t. Because (next point)
- Kathleen Kelly (always Kathleen Kelly, first name and last name. Always.) and her boyfriend Frank (the endearingly horrible Greg Kinnear) only talk about each other, and at each other. Frank is a writer, obsessed with old technology but mostly with the sound of his own voice. Words words words you guys! It’s all so true. They break up. Duh.
(This breakup is much easier to deal with than the way she played Walter in Sleepless in Seattle.)
- When Joe Fox starts “tweaking” his relationship with Kathleen Kelly (the objectionable parts of which I will mention later), the two of them fall in love– as themselves. All the chemistry that existed when they were writing emails came to life in their face-to-face conversations. Which is the real romance of the story, and the least believable part, and the part about which I am most willing to suspend my disbelief.
- The whole premise, watched in 2015, is so unbelievably antiquated, dangerous, and improbable. Now sitcoms and movies joke about online dating every 30 seconds, and entire shows are built around online predators, and chat rooms are NOT DESIRABLE PLACES TO MEET NICE NON-MURDER PEOPLE. The dial-up sound! The idea that you couldn’t communicate with someone if you were trapped in an elevator! Aol in general.
But two things most especially stand out as emblematic of how far removed this whole film is from us now: first, the ethernet cable that Kathleen Kelly’s laptop is anchored to during the “go to the matresses” chat (simply as a jarring reminder that once upon a time, if you wanted to relax in bed with your laptop and Surf the ‘Net, as the youths say, you had to have a cable long enough to accommodate you UGH and be super careful that you didn’t accidentally yank the cord out and break the plastic tab that kept it stuck in there UGH FLASHBACKS UGH.)
- And secondly, and so so sadly: the idea that any bookstore would be that popular today, or that one opening would be that much of a big deal. I know. I hate it too. Frank was right! stupid modernity! stupid tablet readers! stupid wifi!
- Now for objections: I get the willies thinking about how downright manipulative Joe Fox is through this whole “tweaking” phase. Not telling Kathleen Kelly who he is is just so shady. The scene where he brings her daisies? adorable. Yet the tucking her into bed and shushing her?! Sir. You have overstepped yo’ bounds. And at the end, when he drops “for as long as we both shall live” on her? Confusing her deliberately! Why does he look so sad when he knows he’s about to blow her mind in like, 2 hours? What would he have done if she said, in that moment, “sure, just let me go blow off NY152, i like you better!” WHAT? You are playing dangerous games, Mr. F-o-x.
- Aside from the shushing and whatnot, the fact that both of these characters in long-term relationships “wandered” into chat rooms and struck up this correspondence is sketch to the maxx. Indefensible. Even though Frank and Patricia are equally selfish, terrible people. Two wrongs. No rights.
- Okay, and can we talk about the secondary characters? Patricia as Parker Posey in particular. I can’t eat a Tic-tac without thinking of her. Everyone knows a Frank. And George, and Birdie, and Jillian, and Christina. The City itself! The Weather and the Seasons. Meg Ryan’s Haircut. Dave Chapelle for One Scene. The Man in the Opera Cloak in the cafe. Brinkley!
- THE SOUNDTRACK. I was/am obsessed with the music in this. It’s how I found out about Harry Nilsson (and subsequently suggested “The Puppy Song” as the recessional at one of my best friend’s weddings and they played it and it was the happiest thing you’ve ever seen). I get angry watching this movie on TV because they cut out the credits and that’s where Carole King sings “You Could’ve Been Anyone At All” and I catch all the feelings. ALSO: On the soundtrack for sale, Nilsson’s movie rendition of “I guess the Lord must be in New York City” is replaced by Sinead O’Connor’s cover and that makes me feel rage.
STAY IN YOUR LANE, SINEAD.
I have to close this with one last item:
- I will never really forgive Joe Fox for closing The Shop Around the Corner.
That CAVIAR is a GARNISH.