"I'll have what she's having!"
"Harry and Sally meet when she gives him a ride to New York after they both graduate from the University of Chicago. The film jumps through their lives as they both search for love, but fail, bumping into each other time and time again. Finally a close friendship blooms between them, and they both like having a friend of the opposite sex. But then they are confronted with the problem: "Can a man and a woman be friends, without sex getting in the way?"" (www.imdb.com)
We have seen this plot over and over again. Nowadays many people call this phenomenon as 'fuck buddies' or simply 'friends with benefits'.
Rob Reiner had an idea that it has been remade over the years again and again. Two completely strange people meet up. They argue at the beginning but have stimulating conversations for the battle of sexes. Throughout the years these two people keep bumping into each other ultimately leading to a friendship. With friendship comes the physical expression, with friendship and the physical expressing comes love. The theme is neither controversial or novel, but the way Reiner handled it was.
This film succeeds for me for two reasons; the witty down-to-earth dialogue and the actors. I will start from the script by saying that what makes a hefty-dialogue work is wit. For your audience to believe in your dialogue you have to make it real, approachable and try to make your words relate to the everyday common people. Nora Ephron did just that. Not only she wrote a script that's smart and loving, but it made it sparkle with her unbelievable indulgence to make the characters one of us. This plot line is my life, and for ever more I will always find this film a very relatable topic.
But the real magic begun when Billy Crystal met Meg Ryan. These to seemingly very different actors came together to create one of the best rom-coms around that would ultimately leave their own mark in the cinema history books. Billy Crystal, who's more of a stand-up comedian/presenter impersonates the always grumpy and the spirit of contradiction type of guy who refutes the fact that men and women can actually be friends without having the physical part getting in the way. This however, seems to collide with the Queen of rom-coms Meg Ryan's character, who also is very opinionated and has strong views on the matter. But what makes this couple really work is their chemistry. Whether or not they liked each other in real-life, this couple works on screen. They can fight and make up all day long and still one wouldn't be bored of them. They delivered each line with such ease and wittiness that you just love to watch them again and again.
Many directors since 'When Harry Met Sally...' first came out re-visited the theme of close friendship turning into love, and pondered whether this actually work. Films such as 'Boys & Girls', 'A Lot Like Love', 'Friends with Benefits' & 'No Strings Attached' are few of these films that try to make the friendship-love theme work but without quite making it to the top where 'When Harry Met Sally...' is. The fact for this is, as very fortunately for Reiner and the rest of the cast and crew, it was the first among many other films that would follow the Hollywood formula of the rom-com and you ultimately hold a very dear place in the audience's hearts.
This can of course be considered as the ultimately rom-com chick flick but I'd say it goes both ways, as it can interest both sexes equally due to its realistic approach towards the story.
Ladies and Gents out there, enjoy this masterpiece by Reiner. You'll not regret it!
P.S. I don't do this often, but this film has one of the most talked about scenes in all of cinema history and it would be a shame for anyone not to know it. You can get a glimpse of it right here!
When Harry Met Sally...(1989)