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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Anne Martin

March Into the Unkown

It always seems this time of year is extra busy, and coupled with a few personal issues, the month of August disappeared! While busy, this time of year excites me because I LOVE fall! Apple cider, pumpkin farms, a crisp in the air - much like Joe Fox (Tom Hanks) in You've Got Mail, "It makes me wanna buy school supplies." (Which I always do, even though I'm not in school anymore.)

While thinking of this lovely romantic comedy, I'm reminded just how much I enjoy it! Nora Ephron was a prolific romantic comedy writer/producer, especially during the 90s, and in You've Got Mail, she brings to audiences a quirky, fun love story with amazing characters and even more amazing actors, plus it revolves around book stores - what's not to love? It is based on a play by Nikolaus Lazlo, which also inspired the first film iteration in 1940's The Shop Around the Corner (which stars Jimmy Stewart), and the Broadway musical, She Loves Me.

This take on Lazlo's Parfumerie brings the story into the 21st century as it revolves around a secret online flirtation through the iconic AOL e-mail platform between Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) and Joe Fox. They both are falling in love, but have agreed not to share any personal details, so they have no idea who the other person is. When Joe's big box book store builds around the corner from Kathleen's children's book shop, she seeks advice from her online friend (Joe) who advises her to "Go to the mattresses". Because of this conflict, they become enemies in their daily lives, but when their online-selves agree to meet in person, Joe discovers the truth and must decide how to proceed.

It gets a little sticky here on out, and I'm sure there are many debates about how Joe wins Kathleen over, but the takeaway for me is that Kathleen Kelly is an inspiring woman. She tried to take on the big-box store, and while she failed, she held her head high, still keeping her integrity intact as she picked herself up and carried on with the next phase of her professional career. There is a wonderful scene with her mother-figure, Birdie, when she decides to close the store. Birdie tells her "You are daring to imagine that you could have a different life. Oh, I know it doesn't feel like that. You feel like a big fat failure now. But you're not. You are marching into the unknown armed with...Nothing." How poignant, and very true of Kathleen. She grieved her loss, but she didn't stay there - she did march into the unknown, which is terrifying! But she reused to settle, and pushed past her fears and spoke up for herself, even putting Joe in his place a time or two as well.

I think Kathleen Kelly was a little ahead of her time back in 1998, and I'm glad she was as she showed women like me (15 year-old-me) that we didn't need to settle, could take a stand, and even if it didn't work out the way we'd hope, we could still succeed.


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