Review: You’ve Got Mail

You’ve Got Mail (1998)
Dir: Nora Ephron

Apparently, my little sister watches this film regularly despite only being a toddler when it came out, she loves this sort of rom-com that was practically perfected by Nora Ephron.

Bookshop owner Kathleen (Meg Ryan) regularly communicates with a similarly-minded man (Tom Hanks) via email, though they know no personally identifying features about each other, their relationship is built entirely on shared interests and written rapport. What’ll happen when they meet IRL?

One of the last romantic comedies I watched was by James L. Brooks, hoping based on past form that it would be good but it was woefully disappointing. It didn’t remotely live up to the promise of the writer/director’s past work, providing neither sufficient romance nor comedy, just muddled characters. On the other hand, there’s a reason why this is considered a classic of the genre, it didn’t disappoint in any way, it was exactly what I thought it would be and very enjoyably so. 

I found it really charming to watch a throwback to the internet and email in this era, presented as something new and exciting, a joyful pastime and a new way to bring people together. The lead characters epitomise the ideal of people not specifically looking for dates online but making a powerful connection over shared interests, with no mention of trolling or abuse, though there’s some hiding of identities it’s never remotely like catfishing. Sadly, it’s a long-gone era that now feels quaint, even a little naive, but that nostalgia adds charm to the story as something that could only exist a few decades ago and would be completely different if retold today. I don’t expect ‘You’ve Got a DM’ to be as enduringly beloved.  

There’s not much I disliked about this movie, it’s exactly what it needed to be to fulfil my expectation and I took the nostalgia on board as one of its strengths. It’s definitely one of the touchstones of the era, they don’t make romantic comedies quite like this anymore, whether that’s a good or bad thing is probably a matter of taste but there’s no arguing that Nora Ephron was excellent at writing films like this, there’s good reason that her films such as ‘When Harry Met Sally’ and ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ are still so beloved and ones that I’ve found myself enjoying over the past year. Films like this are reassuring throwbacks that exude optimism and good intentions, qualities that should never go out of style.

Currently available on Netflix, this is the kind of classic film that’s great to have to stream on the service, the kind of thing that’s often available on linear television for weekend afternoons when you’re wanting a feel-good movie to relax with. Beloved films like this, ones I’ve somehow missed out on seeing in the past have been really suiting me right now, especially when I’m wanting to watch something but not feeling like anything that requires much concentration or thought. 

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