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No. 1, December 1999
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Copyright 1999  www.cosmopolis.ch  Louis Gerber  All rights reserved.
You've got m@il
Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks in a romantic comedy by Nora Ephron. Get the DVD from Amazon.com, Directmedia Schweiz or Amazon.de.

Since Sleepless in Seattle, everybody was hoping to see Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks in another romantic comedy. You've got m@il by director Nora Ephron was in 1998 this long awaited Warner Bros. film. This movie is reviving the tradition of the romantic Hollywood comedy that goes back to the fifities and early sixties and is tied to names like Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. The action of You've got m@il takes place in New York. The title already identifies the film as a product of the internet age of the late nineties. The conflict between Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) and Joe Fox (Tom Hanks) is also clearly one of our times: a small children's bookstore is fighting against a newly opened superbookstore. The Nora Ephron film fills in a vacuum since its naivety is against the trend of brilliant dark comedies like Fargo or Jackie Brown. All this put together, You've got m@il had to become a success and deserves it.
 
As soon as her boyfriend - a man not happy with modern technology - leaves the flat, Kathleen runs to the computer checking her e-mail. And she's lucky, her anonymous chat friend does the same. Joe Fox of Foxbooks is in an similar situation. The thing that brightens up his life is their e-mail exchange.
 
Kathleen's girlfriend and employee intuitively senses that the children's bookshop owner is in love. The e-mails she is exchanging with Joe are on an asexual level, but that's what makes the chat - and in the end the man - attractive. She confesses to have read Pride and Prejudice over 200 times. He has a look at the book although he doesn't really like it. They share their thoughts on everday life.
 
First, as Kathleen realizes that Foxbooks is moving just across the corner, she isn't too worried. The superstore can't offer her specific owner-to-client-service. If her neighbourhood became a "bookhood" that would only attract more people to her shop. Her friends and clients are in a different mood and ready to organize a protest against the big rival. She slowly starts worrying as she earns $1200 less than the year before in the first week after the opening of Foxbooks.

Before that, Joe Fox passes by at her children's bookshop, together with two small children. The girl is his aunt (!), the daughter of his grandfather's future wife, the boy is his brother (!), his father's son. Then, at a party, Kathleen realizes that this man she liked before and who had introduced himself as Joe was in fact her business-rival Joe Fox. In retrospect, she now (mis)interprets his visit to her shop as espionage. As he starts eating caviar garnishing a plate, she gets upset and Joe reacts by taking it all away. The going gets tough between the two.
 
On their online chat - they still don't know each other's identity - things go much better. Joe even asks Kathleen if they should meet. Her spontaneous reaction in front of her screen: Oh my God! But they aren't to meet yet. Later, in a supermarket, Kathleen lines up in a cash payment row but has only her credit card with her. The cashier as well as other clients get angry. Joe happens to be there too and helps her out - not by paying cash, the not so elegant solution, but by charming the cashier into letting Kathleen pay with her credit card. In spite of this service, their relation remains cold and tight.
 
On the instant message chat, Kathleen tells Joe of her business problems, without specifying who she is and what type of business she is in. He tells her to fight to the death, it's not personal, it's business. Joe takes most of his advice from The Godfather movie, as he confesses. Kathleen follows Joe's recommendations and organizes a protest in the street which leads to a television interview. On the chat front however, things seem to work out better. Kathleen asks her unkown e-mail friend: Do you still want to meet me?
 
We won't tell you more about the plot and the ongoing story. The movie is surely not very profound but it is entertaining. It is no coincidence that the songs in You've got m@il are mostly oldies. The filmmakers were looking for innocent tunes rendering the same feeling as their story. Less innocent is Warner Bros. decision to release the DVD in Europe just before Christmas, as well us our final statement:
Get the DVD from Amazon.com, Directmedia Schweiz or Amazon.de.


www.cosmopolis.ch
No. 1, December 1999
Current edition and Archives
English topical archives: ArtFilm - Music - History - Politics
For Advertisers - Links - Feedback - German edition

Copyright 1999  www.cosmopolis.ch  Louis Gerber  All rights reserved.