“Just a lovely average girl; that’s all I want.”
Response to Peary’s Review:
The subplot involving Morgan’s discovery of his wife’s infidelity plays an important role in the overall storyline (and it’s wonderful to see Morgan given such a meaty, nuanced part) — but at the heart of the film lies the love-hate relationship that develops between Stewart and Sullavan. We know from the beginning that they are each others’ secret paramours, and Stewart finds out roughly half-way through the film — so the crux of the narrative tension revolves around how, when, or if Stewart will choose to reveal what he’s discovered. To that end, the scene in which Stewart initially learns about Sullavan’s identity is decidedly bittersweet; Sullavan’s reaction to Stewart “barging in” on her intended rendezvous shows her in a surprisingly negative light, and it took me a while to understand how Stewart could so easily forgive her and reconcile her “real life” persona with the one she’d revealed to him in letters (there’s clearly more going on in his mind than we’ve privy to). Ultimately, however, their complicated dance of gradual recognition rings true — now more so than ever, as more and more individuals (myself included) meet their beloved in virtual reality before encountering one another in person. Film fanatics should certainly check out this finely acted, expertly directed human comedy at least once.
Note: Laszlo’s play was remade two more times — first as the Judy Garland/Van Johnson musical In the Good Old Summertime (1949), and later as You’ve Got Mail (1993), starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan; neither is must-see viewing.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments: