Looking for a movie to watch that is mail themed? Here is a list of movies that I found that have a prominent letter writing, postcard, or postal service theme. I separated by genre to make them easier to find. Click on the link for my review of the movie (these will be updated periodically)
Oldies (1959 & earlier)
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directed by Jane Campion
Bright Star is historical eye-candy. It follows the love story of Fanny Brawne and John Keats between 1818-21. Keats (Ben Wishaw) is the hopelessly romantic poet who falls in love with Brawne (Abbie Cornish), an eighteen year old with a talent for fashion design and needlework. The flirtation and development of the inevitable affair is impeded by Keats’ poverty and hinderance of his friend, Charles Brown (Paul Schneider) .
Unless you are aware of the biography of Keats or Brawne, the story is unpredictible. Cornish and Wishaw play the young lovers so well, it is hard to believe that you aren’t living in the era before electricity and sewing machines. Brawne’s wardrobe is to die for. Keats is more passionate than a book of poetry. The English countryside, manors, and gardens are beautiful. The sound of Keats’ fountain pen scribbling love letters to Brawne can make any heart melt.
Clearly I loved the movie, perfect for a rainy night with a warm blanket and a cup of herbal tea (I recommend Christmas in Paris from Stash – kind of chocolate mint, YUM!)
IMDB gave it a 7.0 out of 10. I give it an 8.5
The Extraordinary Tale
Directed by Laura Alvea and Jose F. Ortuño
available on Hoopla
The story of a girl that lives by herself who types letters to strangers that never reply. After 1,212 letters (one every day), she finally gets a reply from a boy who is living a similarly isolated life. They type letters back and forth to each other until one day the boy gets brave enough to ask to meet her in person. They meet, fall in love, and live happily ever after.
Even though the premise of the movie simple, the movie is anything but. First of all the cinematography is beautiful. The set colors are trendy – both surreal and bohemian. The costumes are French bohemian, DIY chic. In the 1980s every twenty-something wanted to live in an old brick warehouse, but every 2010’s twenty-something would want to live in this apartment.
The story is quirky, funny and cute. It is easy to connect and sympathise with “She” and “He”. The story arc goes through every emotion flawlessly and takes the viewer along for the ride. She is content living on her own writing letters, although lonely. Then She is happy to have a new friend, although anxious and nervous. He makes her extremely happy, and then they fall in love. Then He gets a job and she gets pregnant. I will stop there so I don’t give away any spoilers. What I will say, is that you will not be able to predict the story. It is new and fresh. Even the ending is not what you expect.
I loved the characters. I cringed when she cringed, I wanted to comfort her when she was scared, and I wanted to give her a break when she was overwhelmed.
IMDB gave it a 6.1 out of 10, but but I give it 9.
Up the Down Staircase
Directed by Robert Mulligan
available on Amazon Prime
The story unfolds over the first three months of the school year at New York inner-city Calvin Coolidge High School. This is Sylvia Barrett’s (Sandy Dennis) first job. Barrett has problems balancing obedience of the adminstration’s bureaucracy and responsibility of teaching the not-so-dedicated students.
It’s like a fast moving traffic jam, if that makes sense. The disrespect of the students, bureaucracy of the administration, and anxiety of a rookie teacher make for a world for of chaos, learning, and defiance.
Although the book is written in epistolary form, the movie is not. The script writers have also taken liberties to change the plot to make it faster moving and more “compelling”. I thought it lost a little of the original flavor of the original story, and it eliminated the connection with the letter-writing / mail theme.
IMDB gave it a 7.6 out of 10. I give it a 5.0 – read the book instead.
directed by Garry Marshall
Tom Turner (Greg Kinnear) is a hustler who is assigned to work service as punishment for his crimes. He is assigned to the Dead Letter Office at the post office. He finds a room full of other potentially forgotten misfits (Laurie Metcalf, Tim Conway, Roscoe Lee Browne, etc.) that “just need a job”, but don’t actually work. They sort the “dead letters” but nothing ever comes from them. Until Turner discovers a letter written to God asking for money, and through a grand mishap, accidentally sends money to the recipient. His coworkers catch wind of the good deed and decide they wanted to join in the fun.
The comedy is silly and knee-slapping. The story, although a little clumsy is heartfelt. The setting at the post office makes you want to get a job there, just to see all those letters. And how fun would it be to open letters to God and trying to fulfill wishes?
IMDB gave it a 5.3 out of 10. I’ll give it a 6, just because I really want to work in the DLO.
The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis
“Affectionately Yours, Screwtape: The Devil and C.S. Lewis”
Directed by Tom Dallis
available on Hoopla
The Screwtape Letters is an epistolary novel in which the correspondence between Senior Demon Screwtape and his nephew Wormwood, a junior inexperienced Tempter. Screwtape is giving guidance to Wormwood about how to secure the damnation of “the Patient” (a mere mortal) through temptation. One of my favorites quotes is from Screwtape: “Why use adultery when golf will do.” The point being a series of lesser temptations that are persistent will grow to bigger sins and culminate in a mistrust of God, a series of frustrations and annoyances are causes for temptation.
The letters are easy and entertaining to read. Since it is an interesting twist on the topic of damnation, the book does not feel overly religious. In fact I think that was Lewis’ intention. Lewis was a self-proclaimed atheist until his twenties. In fact, in 1929 he called himself “the most dejected and reluctant Christian convert in all of England” (he was 31 years old). Lewis liked reversals – i.e. taking our accepted way of thinking of Christianity and turning it around. He broke away from the traditional view of Satan (with a goatee, horns, forked tail and dressed in a dapper red suit) and made him into the CEO of a multi-layer organization.
He initially wrote the Screwtape Letters as a series for “The Guardian” in 1941. The were published in book form in 1942, with a dedication to Lewis’ friend J.R.R. Tolkien. Lewis says the writing was easy, but he did not enjoy writing them – in fact he felt smothered by them. Although I have not read other books by Lewis, you would not know he did not enjoy writing this book. The tongue-in-cheek humor of teaching theology from the devil’s standpoint is pure entertainment.
“Affectionately Yours, Screwtape” is a documentary about C.S. Lewis and the Screwtape Letters. It shines a lot of light on the intent and writing of the book. In my opinion, a 51 min. documentary on a 128 page book is a little excessive, but in matters of religious debate it is understandable.