A classic 90’s romance. But really more then that. I recently read Buzzfeed post that had some completely unfounded and biased opinions about it that I finally had to rewatch the movie and, I’m happy to say, the post was completely and utterly wrong. This movie has more depth and insight into the human soul then almost any romance I’ve ever watched (including, Sleepless in Seattle). The characters are flawed individuals who have back-stories and complicated lives. The two main leads show how complicated real love is.
The movie is about man and woman who have met online and been emailing one other for a while; but their real lives are mysteries to one another. They’re friends who share little tidbits of their souls, somewhat becoming anchors for each other. In real life though their lives are unknowingly about to collide. Catherine is a small bookstore owner. Joe owns a bookstore monopoly (like Barnes and Noble). When Joe starts building only a block away from Catherine’s bookstore, it threatens her business. Their lives collide.
Although it would be a rarity if you hadn’t seen this movie yet, if you want to remain surprised, read not ahead.
I think the movie was brilliant, though. It showed love in some really interested aspects. For one, Joe and his girlfriend. This has a lot of layers. It’s clear from the beginning that the relationship really doesn’t have a lot to it. He’s just going through the motions. What becomes clear as the movie goes on is that the reason he’s in the relationship is because of his dad. His dad wasn’t much for romance but continuously got married and divorced over and over again. Joe grew up with that (as the bulk of the wives had been his nannies) and was just going through the motions just like his dad. It’s probably what he thought he was supposed to do. His girlfriend was also not that great. She was selfish and conceited.
On the other hand, Catherine and her boyfriend were going through similar motions. He wasn’t a bad guy but you could really feel that there was something missing. They seemed to fit, but it just wasn’t there. Something they both realized.
Then you have the online relationship between Catherine and Joe. I feel like they both went into as the people they wished they were. Catherine had taken over her bookstore from her mom and was really kind of living her mom’s life; it was clear in her writing that she had this fire in her that really wasn’t being met by the bookstore. Joe grew up with people who didn’t care, they were businessmen who were accustomed to flickering out small businesses; he was surrounded by people where money and status were the most important thing. It’s clear though that he really didn’t feel that way. He could do it, but it wasn’t really him. The online relationship between them was where they spoke their souls.
Now, the relationship in real life. Catherine and Joe butted heads and argued. Because in the outside world, they were both playing their parts still. Joe was the big bad businessman and Catherine was the loyal bookstore owner protecting her shop. When Joe realized who Catherine was it made him stop and really think. He had to figure out who he really was. Was he NY152 or was he Joe Fox? He couldn’t stop being Joe Fox, but for the first time he could look past his influences and see that he could also be the man he was online.
Honestly, the story really showcases some great things about relationships. Things about change and being your best person. About accepting hard and sometimes painful life changes, but finding the good in what you have. About fighting for what you want and when to accept defeat. Just remember when you watch the movie, it’s not about fantasy. It’s about two people with flaws finding each other and accepting one another.