Go to Homepage   You've Got Mail: A Love Story for Writers

  Crescent Blues Book Views

Warner Brothers (DVD), ASIN 6305368171

Remember the Brownings? Both Elizabeth Barrett and Robert would turn cartwheels just to tickle the keys and find poems emerging with no need for handmade corrections. Imagine their productivity with computers. "How Do I Love Thee" might be a novel. "My Last Duchess" would emerge as Merryl Streep. Together, the most famous "Bs" in English literary history could glide down the red carpet to the Oscars.

dvd: you've got mail The cameras would capture the Victorian invalid fainting into those manly arms. No need for publicity for those two!

This movie captures this very romantic compulsion. Technology may be fast, but tempers flare even faster when Tom Hanks woos a woman he knows only through her words. Do we fall in love with faces and bodies -- or diction and literary style? Even the mysterious lady in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight can't stop gushing at the thought of meeting her favorite literary character. So, with rare subtlety, You've Got Mail produces two correspondents who struggle between double plotlines. As characters, they snipe and argue. As writers, they court with images that tempt meltdown.

Literary romance knocks the stuffing out of super flesh flicks. These stars only share a single embrace and a dog that deserves screen credits. Brinkley comes when he's called -- and races straight toward Meg Ryan. Her email moniker -- Shop Girl -- becomes a term of endearment. His email handle gives away his address -- but who can find that in a city as big New York and all outdoors, too? The character of the city seduces both lovers and audience as we begin to imagine venturing there. "It would be a shame to miss New York in the spring," the hero says. Of course, the fall, with leaves cavorting like birds, already accomplished our surrender.

For a sense of setting, just let this movie run away with you. Dart up and down those stairways to those beloved brownstones. Scan the shops you always hoped to visit. Pick one -- and in we go.

Now, for introductions -- Hmmm. You didn't know that New Yorkers can be the most personable people on the planet? Well, take this time trip back to the city before 9/11. On street corners -- and even on rooftops -- police tend to maintaining civilization. (Forget the Taliban!) Soldiers don't appear on city boulevards, either. Security checks occur to no one. Are we venturing into nostalgia if we simply wish the world could stay like this? Or, do we succumb to fantasies that once -- but never again -- New York meant romance?

In this movie, New York becomes a peek-a-boo stage. Little cubbyholes harbor men and women looking for each other. Doors peek open or slam as they decide on pursuit or shutting chapters in a book. Ryan and Hanks move so well that each conveys character though a single gesture. Shop Girl even bobs about on air! For a guide to the romance of writing, who can improve on You've Got Mail? Its poetic screenplay offers whole "bouquets of newly sharpened pencils."

Meg Curtis

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