Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB. USA, 2015. HBO Documentary Films, Home Box Office, Loveless. Screenplay by Jacob Bernstein. Cinematography by Bradford Young. Produced by Carly Hugo, Matthew Parker. Music by Joel Goodman. Film Editing by Bob Eisenhardt.
Nora Ephron died in 2012 at the age of 71 of leukemia, and the shocking news of her death was compounded by the revelation that her illness was something she had kept from her family and friends for years. For a woman whose constant use of the titular mantra, one she learned from her mother as an invitation to exploit everything she saw and experienced as fodder for her brilliant essays, books and screenplays, Ephron surprised all including her son Jacob Bernstein (who directs this unabashed valentine to her memory) by deciding that this experience was not one she would share with the world. Bernstein pays a beautiful tribute to his mother’s greatness as wit and writer with testimonials from colleagues, friends and relatives to not only provide a sharp summation of her career but to also look into those corners of her personality that could account for the mystery of her disappearing with so little warning. Sisters Delia, Amy and Hallie are on hand as well as Rob Reiner (who directed Ephron’s script When Harry Met Sally), stars Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, Rosie O’Donnell (Sleepless In Seattle) and her good friend Meryl Streep (Silkwood, Heartburn), their contributions making clear that when Ephron left this world, she took an era of journalism and literature as well as a feeling about livingwith her. Her funny, insightful writings took joy in the complicated workings of modern urban failings, steeped in a love of language and a wholehearted appreciation for pleasures big and small. She could be ruthless, as many point out, but she was also ruthlessly sincere, truly loved by those she left behind and admired by those whose life she touched with her work. A number of celebrities also appear to read portions of many of her most famous pieces, while a great deal of them are read by Ephron herself from the audio versions of her books, ending with her famous “What I’ll Miss” list that has much deeper meaning in light of what it was, it turns out, predicting. Try and not be a puddle of tears at the end of a film that celebrates the life of a truly great mind.