June 27, 2012
A Letter to Nora Ephron
My son came out of his room this morning with an announcement. "Nora Ephron died, Mom." When I asked him how he found out he gave me an odd look and said, "IMDB" which is the film website he frequents. It took a moment to sort things out in my mind. It was early after all, and I'm always a little foggy in the a.m.
"Goodness! She wasn't very old."
"71" he said. Just two years younger than my mom.
"I suppose you could say she had a full and rewarding life..." still trying to grapple with the fact of her death.
"Well yeah, she wrote some of your favourite movies of all time," he said, a bit forcefully.
"Yes, yes she did. Oh, that's a shame." And I realized there would be no more When Harry met Sally's, no more Julie and Julia's. I felt a bit like a deflated balloon.
If I could emulate any writer it just might be Nora Ephron. Not too long ago I thought about writing her a letter to thank her for her wonderful gift of inspiration to people like me, people trying to be writers. Her wit was amazing, her comic timing was classic, her characters were warm and wonderful and very human, and her respect for the film as a genre showed in all her movies. She loved old movies and frequently used them as a sort of cameo role in her films.
That letter was never written, so I'm writing it now.
Dear Ms. Ephron,
Thank you so very much for your contribution to the world of film. I cannot tell you how much I loved When Harry met Sally. Whenever I see the film, which is fairly regularly, I get more out of it. You managed to say more about friendship and the nature of real love in that film than others managed in five of theirs put together. You achieved that with tenderness, humour, wonderful writing, and a great sense of style (and a little help from Rob Reiner). The film is a feast for the eyes with its New York seasons, costumes and superb interior scenes.
I watched the interview with you on the special features of my DVD edition of Sleepless in Seattle. I loved how you decided to design the whole film, costumes, sets, props, etc. to be as timeless as possible, and it worked. The film is classic for it. The kid makes the film so much better, too. I know you had two sons and I wondered if he was based on either of them, since his wit matched yours pretty well to a tee...?
I won't say much about You've got Mail, except that it didn't really work all that well in my view and I won't insult you by pretending it did. I do appreciate what you were trying to do there to make a sort of modern day Pride and Prejudice as well as resurrect the chemistry of Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks which worked so well in Sleepless in Seattle, but it fell a bit flat. I like the children's book store setting, and the costumes though. A lot. There are some great comedic moments, too, just not enough of them.
What can I say about Julie and Julia? I love food, I love good, honest writing, I love good acting. What's not to love about the film? Somehow you managed to make a movie which appealed to the various sensibilities of modern young women, their mothers and even their grandmothers. My fifteen year old daughter has been vocal enough about her enjoyment of the film to prompt her co-worker at the dental office to give her her own set of Julia Child cookbooks.
I've never seen Silkwood and I saw Heartburn too long ago to comment on it. I plan to see both of them soon, though, and probably won't feel complete until I have.
Your legacy is a great one. I and your many, many fans around the world will continue to enjoy your films - some of the best 'chick flicks' ever written. You knew how to deliver a happy ending, and God knows we can all use more of those these days.
With love and admiration for your rare talent, I remain forever your devoted fan,