Phone Calls and the Internet as Intimacy in the Films of Nora Ephron

Screen Queens

Nora Ephron’s films, from the ones she wrote to the ones she directed, are all about relationships. As assorted rom-com characters are prone to telling us, a key part of any relationship is communication, but the way we communicate has changed. It’s changed since When Harry Met Sally was released in 1989, and it’s changed even over the course of this year, with virtual interaction replacing a lot of face-to-face socialising. We’ve all been relying on alternative forms of intimacy during the present pandemic – even if lockdown restrictions are beginning to ease and we can see friends and loved ones, we’re not allowed to touch them. In some ways, then, Ephron’s films are ahead of their time. In When Harry Met Sally, this intimacy takes the form of phone calls. In 1998’s You’ve Got Mail, the primary form of communication is email, while in 2009’s Julie & Julia, the protagonist turns to blogging – it is worth noting that the modes of communication get more ‘impersonal’ as time progresses. Where does that leave us today?

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