Directed by Nora Ephron
Based on the stage play Parfumerie by Miklós László
Screenplay by Nora and Delia Ephron
Starring: Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, Greg Kinnear, Parker Posey
Joe Fox (Hanks) and Kathleen Kelly (Ryan) have a couple of things in common. First they’re both in the book business. Joe is part of a wealthy family that owns a chain of discount book stores, while Kathleen is the owner of a small family built children’s book store. Second, they talk every night. Through email, the two have forged an anonymous relationship built on their strange and honest communications. As they fall for one another online, the two become involved in a bitter real-life feud over the dominance of Joe’s company and its threat to Kathleen’s shop around the corner. As they play out these two separate relationships the truth might be delivered.
I don’t think that Miklós László envisioned three film adaptations of his stage play Parfumerie when he wrote it in 1937. Yet, this classic tale has been made into unique versions over the years. First was The Shop Around the Corner, directed by Ernst Lubitsch in 1940. That version starred James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan. Next came a musical in 1949 starring Judy Garland titled In the Good Old Summertime. So after almost 50 years, Nora Ephron (Sleepless in Seattle) took the opportunity to breath new life into this story. She co-wrote the screenplay with Delia Ephron (Hanging Up) and directed the film herself. The film stars Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, opposite one another for the third time. The movie also features Greg Kinnear, Parker Posey, and a number of other talented actors.
This is a good old romantic comedy and it required a compatible pair to make the story work. That was easily done when they brought Tom Hanks (Forrest Gump) and Meg Ryan (When Harry Met Sally) back together. From Joe vs the Volcano and Sleepless in Seattle, the two had already established themselves as having great screen chemistry. Together they make this movie fun from the very beginning. Adding to the mix, Greg Kinnear (As Good As It Gets) and Parker Posey (Fay Grim) are just two of the actors who help to give this story the variety and comedy it needs. The acting from all four of these stars is good and fun.
The story is a simple one, updated from writing letters to sending emails. Despite a rather predictable base, the twists and turns are still fun to see. Nora Ephron was a genius with dialogue, and the film is another example of how she could make even a mundane conversation memorable. In addition, the story is updated in a way that doesn’t focus too much on the technology. Thanks to this careful use of the internet, the story hasn’t aged badly, and doesn’t keep reminding you that it was filmed in 1998. Overall a predictably fun romantic comedy.
This is a good movie for a date night. The story is fun, the actors are good, and it’s not going to test your ability to pay close attention to every detail. If you like the actors, this is one you should check out. I would also suggest it to fans of Nora Ephron or any of her other work. I give this one 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Running Time: 119 Minutes