Home > Writing > Nora Ephron and Meryl Streep-screen magic!
Iâ€™m a major admirer of writer / director Nora Ephron and also of actress Meryl Streep. So to have the two women team up in a movie about another woman I admire (Julia Child) on a subject that is one of my greatest passions (cooking)…ah, Iâ€™m in movie heaven. Iâ€™m talking about Julie and Julia, of course.
But this isnâ€™t a movie review…today I want to ask, what makes for magic on screen? In a movie, as in a book, you can have two very similar stories, yet one is mediocre while the other steps up to greatness. Whatâ€™s the difference? In a romantic comedy, chemistry is key â€“ Ephronâ€™s Sleepless in Seattle and Youâ€™ve Got Mail teamed Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, whom I think made a great match chemistry-wise. I know lots of people adored When Harry met Sally, but for me, witty as the movie was, the Ryan-Crystal chemistry wasnâ€™t as great. In books, chemistry abounds between so many of Georgette Heyerâ€™s Regency protagonists, while Susan Elizabeth Phillips is a mistress of chemistry on the page in contemporary romances.
Another factor in screen magic is that elusive presence, and thatâ€™s something Streep has in spades. In movies from Silkwood to Heartburn, from Kramer vs. Kramer to Adaptation, Streep fills a screen yet doesnâ€™t make it â€œall about herâ€. Sheer genius.
Lastly, thereâ€™s the need for a story that, though it may be about ordinary lives, transcends the trivial and somehow gets to our hearts. This is what I admire about Ephron. She turns even a light comedy into a great story â€“ and you know itâ€™s a great story when you can watch it four, five, six times and it feels fresh every time.
I think that should be the ultimate goal for any romance writerâ€”to write stories that, yes, provide a few hoursâ€™ entertainment. But at the same time, they say something about the human condition and the power of love that we never tire of hearing. Anyone got a favorite Ephron and/or Streep movie theyâ€™d like to share? Abby www.abbygaines.com