I've been meaning to post about Sleepless in Seattle for a little while but I couldn't find any screencaps and I couldn't work out what I wanted to say. It's really sad that today, when I did, I find out that Nora Ephron - the movie's screenwriter and director, as well as the writer of other fantastic films like When Harry Met Sally and probably one of my favourites, You've Got Mail (in this article they call it "slight", but I would say it's small but perfectly formed, just like Kathleen Kelly's shop around the corner) - has passed away at age 71. More than being the author and creator of many cinematic moments that defined my teenage years and informed my growth, whether romantically, or dramatically, or in literature or in life, she is someone who has always inspired me to be a better writer. Her writing was good, and real, and true. I still remember seeing the play that her and her sister adapted from one of my favourite books "Love, Loss and What I Wore" and thinking yes, clothes can define your life, and you don't have to be shallow or silly or flippant to believe that. I remember reading her book "I Remember Nothing" and seeing the list that formed the last few pages of the book. In the things she would not miss column was email, dry skin and washing her hair. In the things she would miss column was driving over the bridge to manhattan. Pie. The concept of waffles.
I'm not old enough yet to appreciate her book "I feel bad about my neck" but I am excited for the day when I am. For now, for me, it will always be about the way Ephron spun a story out of everyday emotions and made it feel so real. It will always be about her love affair with New York. It will always be about the way that she connected with her stars and coaxed the kind of performances from them that you never, ever, ever forget. Meg Ryan in You've Got Mail. Tom Hanks in Sleepless in Seattle. Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally. Meryl Streep in Julie and Julia. It will always be about the way she wrote for real life without any pretension at all, the way her characters said the things they ought to say, in ways that meant something. Joe Fox. F.O.X. That one scene in When Harry Met Sally when Harry tells her that men and women can never be friends because the "sex thing" always gets in the way. That moment in Julie and Julia when Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci sit on that tiny little bed in their French apartment and her feet hang over the side. Daisies for Kathleen Kelly, because daisies are the friendliest flower. About how you get better at love as you get older, that you fall for the way someone takes an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I liked the way this article put it. That all her movies are not so much about making inconceivable, once-in-a-lifetime connections, but rather about believing in the possibility of making those connections. Amidst all the melancholy and the sadness and the despair that exists in these movies - death and bankruptcy and broken hearts - her character always have faith.
I don't really have anything to say about Tom Hanks' style in this movie, other than that it was the kind of casual, all-American sportswear that he suits so well. Bomber jackets and tapered slacks and sloppy joes and suede jackets and all of that good stuff to battle windy, wet weather living on a houseboat in the middle of Lake Union. Style that's perfectly suited to a character who cries at the end of the Dirty Dozen (and what a great scene this is, completely improvised, completely natural, completely perfect in every single way). Nora Ephron, you had class and style and wit and talent and your movies really matter to so many different people and you will definitely, most, most definitely be missed. Rest in peace.