film / opinion

Goodbye, Nora

Words by Brodie Lancaster, illustration by Emma Do

Nora Ephron taught me how not to be friends with a man. Unlike the titular characters in When Harry Met Sally, I have never fallen in love and slept with any of my close male friends. Unlike Rachel—the character in Heartburn who Nora based on herself—I’ve never kissed my male friends while I’m heavily pregnant and asking to come back to work after leaving an unfaithful husband. I feel like these choices have served me well. They’ve also ensured I will have strong, healthy relationships with many cats until my decomposing body is found buried in overflowing litter trays, not very many years from now. The ladies Nora wrote took great, romantic leaps, and often tripped only slightly on their ways down.

Nora Ephron taught me to hate Amy Adams. If you don’t come out of a screening of Julie and Julia wishing it had just been called ‘Julia’, then you and I have literally nothing in common. There is something inherently wrong with you and your opinion on the matter is completely wrong. But that’s okay. Even the most unendurable heroine had her place in one of Nora’s films. Unluckily for us, that ‘place’ happened to be front and center, eating up screen time that could’ve been spent watching Meryl Streep shrieking about eggs or boning ducks and Stanley Tucci.

Nora Ephron taught me how to behave in the workplace. At The Shop Around the Corner, Meg Ryan’s Kathleen forms firm bonds with her workmates that see them gathering around a piano at Christmas time and banding together to save their livelihood. Kathleen also enforced a strict ‘man’s shirt with exposed collars over vests’ dress code, which I wholeheartedly support.

Nora Ephron taught me the importance of female friendships. The ‘Caesar salad brunch’ in Julie and Julia taught me to appreciate my lady friends, stop keeping in faux-pleasant contact with people I secretly hate, and respect Casey Wilson’s roots. Sleepless in Seattle taught me that the world needs a lot more Rosie O’Donnell. I mean, obviously not talk shot host Rosie or Riding the Bus With My Sister Rosie — more like Now and Then Rosie; the cynical, asexual BFF every city gal needs by her side to offer a meaningful eyebrow raise or a snarky sip on a straw. Rosie knows what you need, but she wants to watch you figure it out on your own.

Nora Ephron taught me to love New York City. She taught me the romanticism of the Empire State Building (and deceived me about the time it takes to get to the top). She taught me to appreciate the tiny, one-bedroom apartment I lived in above a Greek restaurant in Queens (sidenote: Amy Adams’ Julie lived above a Queens pizza shop with Chris Messina and a cat and, therefore, had nothing at all to complain about). This is My Life taught me what it’s really like to navigate through the streets of Manhattan. She reminded me that the huge city of chain stores and tourist traps still has room for the little guy. She showed me the beauty of Greenwich Village and begged me to scoff at the idea of parking a car at the arch in Washington Square Park to drop a new NYU student off at the dorms. And, using both her life and her life story as depicted in Heartburn, she told me I was wrong to leave.