YOU’VE GOT MAIL
Dir. Nora Ephron (1998); 119 min
FRIDAY, November 21st at 7 & 9:30pm
SATURDAY, November 22nd at 7 & 9:30pm
SUNDAY, November 23rd at 3pm
A New York romance viewed through the modernist fairy-tale lens of Nora Ephron, You’ve Got Mail was billed as a spiritual sequel to Sleepless in Seattle (both of which help form a Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan triptych that started with Joe vs. The Volcano). Sleepless was unashamedly based on An Affair to Remember while You’ve Got Mail is a subtle reworking of the Ernst Lubitsch classic The Shop Around the Corner, with doses of Pride and Prejudice sprinkled throughout. While the original can boast in having “the Lubitsch touch,” it is Ephron’s literary ability (with her co-screenwriter and sister Delia) to treat her characters with kindness, from multiple perspectives, while reveling in language games and turns of phrase that makes her films feel softer but often more shrewd than those of her New York compatriot Woody Allen. These characters are well-read, are seen reading and writing, and speak in paragraphs instead of punch-lines. Perhaps the film’s pre-millennial buoyancy is hard to stomach now - it’s very much a film of the late 90s, still optimistic about technology’s ability to connect an ever-fragmenting world, exemplified by the peppy America Online product placement. Rather than detracting from the film’s charm, Ephron’s temporal and geographical specificity allows her to explore with some detail the burgeoning world of cyber-romance and Internet culture at the moment it became mainstream. It ends up feeling timeless, somehow, even while it rails against corporate takeovers of local businesses and New York’s further descent into inequality: one character bemoans her bad luck in having to move to Brooklyn, a moment that screams class privilege and hipster-driven gentrification when considered against New York’s topography today. Yes, it’s a fairy-tale, but it’s often wise about the world in the way a fairy-tale should be. Also features a forgotten role played by Dave Chappelle.