Nora Ephron season coming to Glasgow Film Theatre

Glasgow Film Theatre crown the great writer-director Nora Ephron their latest CineMaster, with screenings of four of her peerless romantic comedies planned in June

Article by Jamie Dunn | 28 May 2019
  • You've Got Mail

Romantic comedies are hard to pull off. Don't believe us? Just look at what Nora Ephron, the modern master of the romcom, had to say about them in 2009. "They look as if they should be easy, but they’re hard because there’s nothing you can depend on," she said. "I mean, you don’t have car chases or anything like that and, really, you don’t have plot in the way we understand that term – we all know pretty much from the start what the end of the movie is going to be."

This is perhaps one of the reasons for the paucity of the genre over the last few decades. The drying up of the mid-budget movie and Hollywood's general disregard for films aimed at women are also contributing factors. Another is that Ephron herself passed away in 2012, and no filmmaker has stepped forward to replace her as the Don of romcoms.

You've a chance though to remember what salty-sweet delights her best films were this month as Glasgow Film Theatre crown Ephron their latest CineMaster. The season opens with Heartburn from 1986, Ephron's adaptation of her own 1982 novel of the same name, which was a thinly-veiled account of her acrimonious marriage to journalist Carl Bernstein. Meryl Streep plays the sympathetic Ephron stand-in while Jack Nicholson is at his most caddish is the cheating husband. Celluloid fans should circle Heartburn in their brochure as it's screening from a 35mm print.

Next up is Ephron's most-loved film, 1989's When Harry Met Sally..., which pretty much set the template (and the high watermark) for every will they/won't they romantic comedy that followed in the 90s, from Jerry Maguire to Notting Hill to Rachel and Ross in Friends. Its premise asks a simple question – can men truly be platonic friends with women? We follow the eponymous characters – Meg Ryan’s Sally and Billy Crystal’s Harry – over several years of friendship, making this one of the few romcom epics. It's most remembered for the very disruptive lunch the pair share at a New York deli, but the film is full of quieter delights that make it a classic of the genre.

Heartburn and When Harry Met Sally... aren't directed by Ephron (the helmers are, respectively, Mike Nichols and Rob Reiner), but she would go on to direct several classic romcoms herself, including Sleepless in Seattle (1993) and You've Got Mail (1998). The former is perhaps the sweetest of her comedies. It follows Tom Hanks as a lonely widower whose son sets him up with Meg Ryan's newspaper reporter, who falls for Hanks' character after hearing him one night on a radio call-in show.

Ryan and Hanks reunited five years later for the spikier You’ve Got Mail, Ephron's sharp adaptation of Ernst Lubitsch’s masterpiece The Shop Around the Corner, where the anonymous pen-pal concept is replaced by the – at the time – new-fangled tech of email. Ryan plays the owner of a small bookstore who's enjoying an online flirtation with an anonymous man, who turns out to be someone she loathes IRL: Hank's manager of a mega bookstores chain that's about to put her boutique shop out of business. Good news, celluloid-nuts, this one's also screening from 35mm.

The dates for Nora Ephron: CineMaster are below. Full details here:

Heartburn on 35mm – 2 & 5 Jun
When Harry Met Sally... – 9 & 12 Jun
Sleepless in Seattle – 16 & 19 Jun
You've Got Mail on 35mm – 23 & 26 Jun