Urban Cinefile
"I did two period pieces so it was like, 'When are you going to get out of the corsets?' and I was thinking 'I just got into them!' "  -actress Frances O'Connor on her first international roles
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Saturday, December 16, 2017 

Search SEARCH FOR A REVIEW
Our Review Policy OUR REVIEW POLICY
Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE

Help/Contact

YOU'VE GOT MAIL

SYNOPSIS:
Joe Fox (Tom Hanks) is the owner of Manhattan's largest book superstore franchise; Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) is a passionate young woman who runs a small children's bookstore, and thus his rival in never-sleep New York. But when relaxing on the internet service AOL, Joe goes by his screen name NY152; Kathleen, is known online as Shopgirl. Although they've never met in person, the online relationship between NY152 and Shopgirl is heating up. But at the same time, the conflict between Joe and Kathleen flares when Joe's latest superstore threatens to put Kathleen's small neighbourhood store out of business. Kathleen turns to the one person she trusts most – NY152.

"Delightful and uplifting, You've Got Mail is light as a souffle fresh from the oven. Yes, it's predictable and at times contrived, but we are in the magical land of Nora Ephron who creates a style from the very beginning of the surreal opening credits. The script is clever; it establishes the two characters as well as that of their inner souls. And it's due to the sheer charisma of Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan who liberally infect their characters with charm. Hanks and Ryan are wonderful together; those who liked Sleepless in Seattle will adore this cute, clever look at how cyberspace and the modern version of letter writing can become a mirror to the soul and indeed a conscience. I marvel at how Hanks can so easily switch genres – Saving Private Ryan to You've Got Mail is a gigantic leap, and here he takes the character and adds so many little nuances to make the interpretation marvellous. As for Ryan, she manages to elevate facial expression for passive actions such as thinking and breathing, to an artform. She is absolutely enchanting with superb comedic timing to boot. There's intelligent juxtapositioning of two different life styles and the journey to the intersection. There's a feel-good soundtrack with tunes like Puppy Song, Dream, Splish Splash and Anyone at All, which will put you in the mood. You've Got Mail is a real charmer, a compelling, romantic story about dream."
Louise Keller

"While it’s schmaltzy, manipulative, quietly but utterly unbelievable and rather thin (a short film idea dragged out into feature length), You’ve Got Mail has at least one important saving grace: it places enormous value on books and reading, even showing entire families sitting around on the floors of bookshops – reading books! Never mind the internet, read the books, it says every now and again. Now, while our jaded Jake (below) takes a cynical view of all this literature sloshing about in a superficial little romantic comedy, I happen to think this is damned good subliminal editorialising – but being a writer, I would say that. While it shouldn’t be taken too seriously as a film, it does deliver what the filmmakers want to say and does that well. It also makes the vital and valid point that we are not what we seem; and that writing can liberate our feelings as well as our intellects. Am I squeezing too much out of it, or is this taking it too seriously? I dunno, but I quite enjoyed it, especially Hanks and Ryan’s performances."
Andrew L. Urban

"There's such an old fashioned simplicity about this film that gives it an irresistible charming quality. Cynics may be slightly underwhelmed by its romanticism, but when one delves deeper, You've Got Mail is far more than a superficial romantic comedy. The Ephron sisters have crafted a script that is deceptively simple, yet in its exploration of the nature of technology, literature and the way which computers have overtaken our lives at every turn, You've Got Mail is thematically more dense that one might imahine. It's a film as much about the joy and importance of literature, children's literature in particular, as exemplified in one beautiful moment during which book owner and some time story teller Kathleen Kennedy (played with sublime radiance by Meg Ryan), sits in a circle with a group of young children reading out a story, as all are transfixed. The film's positive message on the power of the written word is an ironic twist to the film's main plot line: that two somewhat lost souls find themselves through the power of e-mail. It's a wonderful notion, and one that plays with intelligent observation, under the careful direction of Norah Ephron. Like Ephron's Sleepless in Seattle, You've Got Mail also deals with the romanticism of Fate, but unlike the earlier work, this one allows the relationship between Hanks and Ryan to be shrewdly explored and manifested. The film takes its time, thus allowing Hanks' arc to become more credible. The two performers effortlessly spin their magic, alternating between subtle humour and delicate poignancy. This deft little charmer worms its way into your heart."
Paul Fischer

"When Ernst Lubitsch made The Shop Around the Corner, things were a lot less complicated than they are today. That hasn’t stopped director Nora Ephron from updating the classic tale to embrace today’s technology - and for the most part, it works well. This agreeable romantic comedy looks great (the use of New York locales is wonderful); and although it offers little in the way of new insights into love in the 1990’s, it doesn’t make any pretence of trying to. The re-teaming of Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks virtually guarantees box office success; and they don’t disappoint. Ryan does the whole "Meg Ryan thing" (you know what I mean) with her usual easy charm and Hanks backs up his powerhouse turn in Saving Private Ryan with a pleasant performance in a much less demanding role. Unfortunately, three of the most interesting characters - played by Greg Kinnear, Parker Posey and Steve Zahn - get limited screen time. This is a drawback for the film as a whole, as their lack of screen time tends to make the plot a little patchy. Its other main problem is a "flat" patch in the middle of its two hours’ running time. I was also a little concerned at the excessive product placement; and the "big business is good" message that comes through in the latter part of the film. You’ve Got Mail is a little like one of Joe’s bookstores depicted in the film - gimmicky, slick and unashamedly manipulative; but at the same time seductively attractive."
David Edwards

"So here's Meg Ryan, manager of a darling little children's bookshop in Manhattan, equipped with 'flawless taste' and working harder than ever to become the Doris Day of the '90s; and there's a miscast Tom Hanks as the chainstore-owning tycoon who moves in next door. Will Meg stop worrying and learn to love corporate capitalism? Does anyone in the entire universe care? This is supposedly a remake of the Ernst Lubitsch classic The Shop Around The Corner, but virtually nothing of the earlier film remains: Lubitsch is just one more smug citation aimed at the 'educated' viewer, in a context of cultural name-dropping that ranges from Jane Austen to Michel Foucault (surely a first for Hollywood), alongside jokes about people who don't know the proper meaning of the word 'ironic.' Isn't it ironic, by the way, that while Meg Ryan knows all about wonderful old books like 'Anne Of Green Gables,' she spends so much time logged onto that amazingly hip, happening new medium of communication, the Internet? Pity that no-one has yet figured out a way to make scenes of people typing at computers visually interesting (Meg Ryan stares soulfully at screen; close-up of flashing cursor). And I haven't yet mentioned the unbearably familiar pop standards on the soundtrack, or the cute dog or the cute kids, or the supporting turns from the likes of Parker (one-note) Posey... Briefly, this is cynical and poisonous on every possible level. Avoid, avoid, avoid."
Jake Wilson

Email this article

__________________

CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 2
__________________

See our FEATURE with the filmmakers

SOFCOM MOVIE TIMES

YOU'VE GOT MAIL (PG)
(US)

CAST: Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, Greg Kinnear, Parker Posey, Reiko Aylesworth,

DIRECTOR: Nora Ephron

PRODUCER: Nora Ephron, Lauren Shuler-Donner

SCRIPT: Nora Ephron, Delia Ephron

CINEMATOGRAPHER: John Lindley

EDITOR: Richard Marks

MUSIC: George Fenton

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Dan Davis

RUNNING TIME: 119 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 26, 1998

VIDEO RELEASE: June 29, 1999

VIDEO SELL-THRU RELEASE: November 22, 1999

RRP: $24.95

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Home Video







© Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2017