Friday, December 26, 2014

Witty chronicler of an era of change

Nora Ephron, who died Tuesday at age 71, was the link between different worlds, different eras, on and off the screen.

Witty chronicler of an era of change

Nora Ephron, who died Tuesday at age 71, was the link between different worlds, different eras, on and off the screen.

She brought together Hollywood and the Beltway, the personal and the political, in her book (and later screenplay) Heartburn, about her marriage to the Washington Post’s Carl Bernstein.

She linked the coasts, the bustling east and the insomniac west, along with movie romances old and new, in Sleepless in Seattle.

She blended the high and ancient art of preparing fine food with a dash of blogging in Julie & Julia.

She was the child of screenwriters who kept the sparkling banter flowing between Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn in Desk Set, but she will forever be remembered for Meg Ryan’s gestural expressiveness in that deli in When Harry Met Sally ...

Ephron filled her work with wit and elan, chronicling the new dance of the sexes since the upheaval of the 1960s, when women went from having a place to having a voice. And, oh, what a voice she had. Self-deprecating and funny, other times skewering the pomposity and presumptions of a rapidly changing era.

She never held back, observing and critiquing the times with clarity, directness, and, always, humor. It’s all there, from her 1972 Esquire article, “A Few Words About Breasts,” through her screenplays, films, and essays, right up to the last collection, I Remember Nothing, about aging and facing the end.

She wrote of losing her best friend: “There’s never going to be another one. ... It’s an amazing loss and almost everybody my age has that, that hole, where there used to be somebody.”

Ephron fans now know the feeling all too well. They’ll find some comfort on their bookshelves and DVD racks, but there will never be another Nora Ephron.

 

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