Friday, July 28, 2006

Comfort Movies

A few years ago Dreamworks released a light romantic comedy called "The Love Letter." (Directed by Peter Chan) Based upon a novel by Cathleen Schine, "The Love Letter" is the story of Helen (Kate Capshaw), recently divorced and running a ramshackle bookstore in a quaint New England village.


As the movie opens, Helen has packed her daughter off to camp. One day in the bookstore she finds an unsigned love letter which she naturally assumes is for her. She becomes obsessed with the writer's identity, thinking at first it's high school friend George (Tom Selleck, charming) but shocked to discover it might be her young employee Johnny (Tom Everett Scott). Johnny has the hots for her and the two begin an affair.

The letter falls into other hands, and several characters come to believe the letter is meant for them. Helen's assistant (Ellen DeGeneres) and another employee
(Julianne Nicholson) each make erotic mistakes based on misreadings of the letter.

The mystery of the letter involves Helen's mother (Blythe Danner), and is surprising though not shocking. I bring up "The Love Letter" because it's a random film that I find myself watching whenever it appears on cable, and I can't figure out why. Essentially it's a very special episode of "Northern Exposure," with quirky characters in an isolated setting allowed to bloom but not to cross the line into absurdism.

What does my addiction to "The Love Letter" say about me? Julianne Nicholson looks great with a buzz cut, for starters. Most of the time I share the film's infinitely optimistic view on the possibilities of love. Also, the film portrays a community of genuinely appealing people who rely on each other for friendship, solace, etc. Not the most deeply philosophical ideas perhaps, but important nonetheless.

(image - the z review)

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