I really do hope that none of my lady friends know the real reason as to why I always answer their late calls at night.
Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan) debate during a trip from Chicago to New York about sex and friendships between men and women. Eleven years later, they’re still no closer to finding these answers but are a lot closer to each other than they ever expected.
Can a man and a woman be friends? Or does sex get in the way of that? These are two obvious questions that this flick brings up and I think the solution of it all is pretty clear: yes.
Director Rob Reiner and writer Nora Ephron were definitely on the same page here when it came to meshing these two elements together, because it’s just about perfect. Ephron’s script is very good as it covers a lot of questions and themes that usually come up between a man and a woman, especially with relationships as well. There’s plenty of insight into the minds of two normal, everyday human beings that just feel very true and believable even if it does come from the minds of a whole bunch of Hollywood heads. The film is also very funny and made me laugh a whole bunch because it focuses on relationships in a funny way, but also shows them in a way that makes you rethink all of the relationships you’ve ever been in and may soon be in for the near future.
At the heart of this film though, is the friendship between Harry and Sally. At first, they both hate each other and make it obviously seem like they could never be friends but we stop by on them every time they spot each other every once and awhile, and each time the conversations are funny as well as biting. They both start to become friends, even best friends at that, and I think that’s where the film really won me over with was that I could believe these two as friends and maybe even as lovers. The conversations these two have with each other about relationships, sex, divorce, ‘Casablanca’, and so many other things, all feel real and what would be discussed between two people that are very good friends and will tell each other anything and everything. Reiner definitely did a great job with focusing on these two throughout the whole movie but also not forgetting let the points about relationships from Ephron hit as well.
What I did think was a bit strange about this direction from Reiner was the little interviews from elderly couples that have their own love stories to tell. For some reason they would just pop-up in this flick out of nowhere and some stories would be funny, sad, and even a little heartwarming but they didn’t really need to be here. I get that Reiner was trying to show how love can just come up and find you and your muse at any time in life, but I didn’t feel like it was suited well for the material they had here and instead it just showed that Reiner didn’t know how to transition between scenes very well. It’s my only complaint though so I can’t be too hard on him and this film.
The reason why this film works so well the way it does is because of Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan‘s performances as Harry and Sally. Crystal is very, very funny as Harry and uses a lot of the sly humor he uses in ever film and also when he hosts the Oscars. His dramatic chops may not be the best skills he has to offer, but he at least gets by on showing us a very funny and believable character that you could probably walk by on the street and talk to for hours on end about anything. Ryan also is very good here in her own way as Sally and she shows a great divide between humor, heart, and beauty that fits together so perfectly. I don’t usually like Ryan in a lot of stuff (except for ‘In the Cut’, which is for obvious reasons ;)…..) but she won me over here with a female romantic lead that wasn’t stupid and knew just how ridiculous and over-dramatic she could be at some points. Together, they’re a perfect pair because they have such funny and believable interplay that it’s hard to take them as anything else but best buddies. This script was great to begin with but because of these two, it got a hell of a lot better in my book.
Consensus: When Harry Met Sally may fall for the same rom-com cliches we always get, but the smart and true script, mixed with two honest and likable performances from Crystal and Ryan, make this one of the better rom-coms I have seen in quite some time.
RIP Nora Ephron, you will truly be missed.