You’ve Got Mail is the romantic comedy of romantic comedies. You’ve Got Mail is “the I Ching . . . the sum of all wisdom . . . the answer to any question.” With a pre-Tinder, pre-match.com innocence, the movie endearingly explored the Internet’s effects on our lives, specifically romantic, and then confirmed “the end of Western civilization as we know it” when Kathleen and Joe, two people who technically met online, fell into each other’s arms in Riverside Park at the conclusion of the movie.
I could really go on here, and I’m already digressing, so I’ll get to the point. I think the plot of the movie is simple (in fact, it’s a remake of a much older film, so it’s not even original). And, of course, Joe and Kathleen end up together, their mutual disdain rescued, redeemed and transformed by their correspondence via cyberspace. But decorating this simple love story are a lot of details. The movie teems with specifics—a quality of good writing that emits genuineness: The Upper West Side, Starbucks, Caramel Macchiatos, The Shoe Books, Zabars, Joni Mitchell, The Godfather, Café Lalo, typewriters, Riverside Park, Dinosaur pop-up book, Scotch tape, daisies, Pride and Prejudice, Brinkley, mangoes, Generalissimo Franco, and I could go on really, but you get the idea.
My spectacular colleague Emily has written about this before. We can all write grammatically correct, concise content, but how memorable will it be without imagery and specifics?
Researching, talking, asking the right questions, asking follow-up questions, sorting and organizing information, all of these things take time and effort. But don’t you think the return—the details that exude quality, the connection to the reader—are worth it in the long run?
You’ve Got Mail came out in 1998. It’s an oft-quoted movie amongst my friends, and I sometimes like to theorize about the vulnerability of Frank Navasky. I think about that “defining sense of self” when I’m ordering coffee in a Starbucks, and now I’m not sure which is more significant: the actual scenes from The Godfather or the ones where Joe or Frank are talking about The Godfather. All that to say, I still feel connected to it, its simple story strengthened with a myriad of interesting, memorable details.
(Also, I still want the haircut and wardrobe of Kathleen Kelly.)
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