Year of Revisiting #11 – You’ve Got Mail
“I bet you read that book every year. I bet you just love that Mr. Darcy, and your sentimental heart just beats wildly at the thought that he and … um, well … you know–whatever her name is–are truly, honestly going to end up together.”
AOL! Books! Meg Ryan!
I love this ‘90s update of The Shop Around the Corner (another lovely movie) for the dial-up AOL generation. Books and bookstores are major plot elements. Despite its bona fide rom-comness, there are sad undercurrents too: the encroachment of big business, for one, and Kathleen’s (Ryan) dead mother, for another. I tear up every single time as Kathleen closes the door on her store for the last time and remembers her mother twirling her around it.
Both Kathleen and her internet pen pal Joe (Tom Hanks) are kind of emotionally cheating on their partners, but it’s easy to overlook because Patricia (Parker Posey) is awful and Meg’s split with Frank (Greg Kinnear) is probably the most good-natured, giggly breakup I’ve ever seen.
Pride and Prejudice imbues Kathleen and Joe’s enemies-to-lovers relationship with conflict and romance.
Early on, Kathleen as Shopgirl recommends it to Joe’s NY152, who is at first seen discarding it, but the book and its characters pop up repeatedly:
NY152 helps Shopgirl to be a little bit bitchier, yet Kathleen’s newfound ability to say exactly what she means to Joe always ends up making her feel guilty. At one point, Joe stops Kathleen from making another dig at him: “Now I can see that I bring out the worst in you, but let me just help you to not say something you’re just gonna torture yourself about for years to come.” Joe’s ability to overlook Kathleen’s barbs and his desire to protect her from the misery she feels after, even though it’s all directed at him, is one of the sweetest parts of the story.