(A Tribute to Nora Ephron)
The first thing I looked at after watching " Sleepless In Seattle' was the name of the scriptwriter. I guess it was because I had seen a lot of such movies in my past. Only those were not called lyrical comedies but love dramas. It was Russia after all.
I remember the movie "Every Night At 11 pm' about a woman confessing her troubles and desires to an unknown coarse voice on the phone every day at 11pm.. It was a man's voice and he surely knew how to listen. Eventually he found her but never told her that it was him who listened.. In another movie "Three Poplar Trees On Plushicha' a married woman with abusive husband meets a nice, caring man on her trip and falls in love.
There was a movie "The Daytime Train' about a lonely intelligent woman who cannot date because she is appalled by shallowness of men'. The famous one " Moscow doesn't care for tears' is a story about a woman who rose in her career and found a good man eventually thorough high troubles. A marvelous and powerful movie " The Beginning' is a story about a young talented girl who by chance is invited to play Jean D' Arc in a movie and through the role looks at the world in a very different way.
Thus I was not much impressed by "Sleepsess' but I recognized the style. I just was interested who could make movies similar to those I loved so much. The primary features of those movies was sadness with no malice, problem with no despair, life with hope brimming, loss with new challenges ahead. I could only wonder about the unfairness of life; if Nora could meet those Russian directors and scriptwriters, maybe together they could make something really great. It always seemed to me that Russian movies missed something and Nora's movies also missed certain things but of different kinds.
Russian movies missed flesh. Communist morality permitted love but prohibited passion. Women were gorgeous but not pursued. They were admired, courted, sometimes stalked. But it was all big deal about spiritual stuff. You could not shoot an orgasmic episode at that time; Meg Ryan from " When Harry Met Sally' would not be able to do all that in the Russian diner. It was all presumed but not shown. That's why it was never clear what was that attracted men to those women in Russian movies; there was always a flare of a fairy-tale, a mystery of unconsummated relationship, the lack of closure. The message was not about seeking love but about suffering for love.
Ephorn's movies are American and we have a plenty of flesh. That orgasm scene is in fact quite vulgar and not that funny but it makes the day. An overwhelming majority of the tributes to Nora on TV mentioned that scene only. Other women in her movies also have steady sex partners, sleep with those on a regular basis while seeking the soul mate. It would be inconceivable if the heroine of " The Beginning " would have a steady partner and sleep with him while shooting scenes from the life of Jean D' Arc.
I never could understand that visible disconnect between spiritual and physical. So typical for Nora's women. Men in her movies are static- no big deal. I even dare to state that Nora did not know much about men; they were there for the entourage.
It becomes obvious how those two approaches above could complement each other to produce something like "Gone with the Wind' or " Withering Heights' of the modern. The great movie would have combined a powerful male with a free- spirited female .. Something like that I saw in one of the movies with Angelina Jolie and Clive Owen.
Nora Ephron worked hard to show the issues the free female character encounters in the everyday America and her women are alive. The proper next step was to learn and accept that a) those issues are universal , same as the types of women and b) those issues cannot be resolved without men. Nobody succeeds alone.
Nora's movies did not address that but Nora's life did. It was a pleasure.