You’ve got mail (1998)- Nora Ephron
You’ve got mail is a lovely rom-com that leaves a pleasant taste in the mouth. It is airy and lovely, and still touches on some interesting issues and (despite using hilariously archaic web technology) discusses chatroom anonymity and web-etiquette. But what has it got to do with Pride and Prej?
Well, everything according to fan sites and blogs all over the internet. Not only is the story slightly similar, but the characterisation is quite nice for it (although Hanks is far too much of the nice-guy to be a true Darcy) and Kathleen even mentions having read Pride and Prejudice “about 100 times and every time I read it I worry that Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy are not going to get together”.
I love this potential insight into a Darcy character through Joe. The idea of feeling so much remorse after wronging someone (as we glimpse through his rudeness about Elizabeth) is a beautiful one. And when Lizzy takes on this trait in the novel, as we see her fend of Darcy’s proposal, it almost mirrors the scene with Kathleen and Joe at the coffee shop. In both, egos are crushed with a vegeance, however where Lizzy has a real insight (if harsh and misguided) about Darcy, Kathleen misses Joe completely making comments about him being a ‘suit’ and not really getting to the heart of the matter.
The characters who work with Kathleen have some attributes of those in Lizzy’s life, and they give her the friendship she needs at each point. Christina and Birdie act as her confidantes and fit Jane’s position in the book, and they share the same sisterly affection, however they have an over-the-top edge that is reminiscent of Lydia and Kitty. There is also a little passage between Christina, Kathleen and George where they discuss the possibility that Kath’s mystery chatroom man is the rooftop murderer, which is almost a nice reflection on the many mistakes and confusions that happen in P&P.
Kathleen as Lizzy is an interesting one. Some details such as how she says: “Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life. Well, not small, but circumscribed.” makes me think about the true facts of living in regency society. Women’s lives were very limited. Kathleen has a small-ish living style in this piece and wants more, perhaps, but it doesn’t come close to the high-expectations and domesticity that the Bennet daughters were expected to abide by.
I think that there is this great nicety in this film in that they fall in love without each others’ looks. Whereas Lizzy and Darcy have quite possibly obvious attractions (fine eyes, and a Colin-Firth-esque white wet shirt) the romance between these two is completely blind (even to particulars). I also really liked how charming and innocent the beginning is, and it reminds me of Charles and Jane quite a lot through their genuine sweetness when online.
Does this movie shed light on why the pure Pride and Prejudice situation could not exist in the modern-day? Is it because we are so suspicious of one another that we would require a complete extra subplot to make us give them the time of day? Would we need that prior positive exposure, via the internet or something, that would let them into our lives? Would Kathleen have ended up with Joe if he hadn’t have been the person she was talking to online?