When Harry Met Sally (1989) (R)
For the casual movie goer, "When Harry Met Sally" is a movie wrapped around an infamous scene in which Meg Ryan fakes sexual climax in a crowded restaurant. To the critic snob, the film is playing off the success of Woody Allen films and holds nothing drastically original in it. The film appears, to the cynic, to be about how women cannot resist men and how they are too emotionally clingy. But to me, "When Harry Met Sally" is a movie about life and then love. It's about truth, it's about humor, and it's about romance...and it is stunning.
The unexpected turns the film has, the humorous bits—they are all seamlessly blended into perhaps one of the greatest romantic comedies ever made.
Harry Burns is going to New York...so is Sally Albright. Harry's girlfriend knows Sally and suggest that the two ride together from the University of Chicago to New York. It's a long drive and the two don't see eye-to-eye. Harry is a depressing character, he says he ponders about death hour after hour. He will start a book and then skip to the end to find out what happens just in case he dies before he gets to finish the novel. The dialogue between the two quickly turns to sex during a scrutiny of "Casablanca" (a note to any: please watch "Casablanca" before seeing this...it makes the film so much more enjoyable). Harry comments that Sally is a very attractive woman—she balks at this. She tells him that she will not, under any circumstances, sleep with him. After much arguing and back talking, she finally concedes that the two can be friends but no more. He tells her that men and women can never be friends...all the men want to sleep with all the women and that turns everything sour.
Infuriated by his bleak look on love and relationships, Sally wishes Harry good luck once they are in New York and she hopes to never see him again.
Five years later, the two bump into on an airplane. They are subtly different. Harry has settled down and married and Sally is in a new relationship—a fact that brings more snide comments from Harry.
They don't hit it off that well again and then it's another five year gone by. Sally has just broken up with her long-term boyfriend and Harry has just gotten a divorce.
They meet again and this time they both have matured from the loss of their loves ones. They gripe to each other, complaining about how unfair life is and what jerks their ex's were.
They slowly become friends, friends that can talk about their love life and how their day went...they become girlfriends.
This is Rob Reiner at the top of his game. Each shot is filled with comedic precision and a great sense of purpose. There is not one dull moment in the film, and both stars shine with class.
This is the movie that made credible household names out of everyone involved. Reiner had previously made "This is Spinal Tap" and "The Princess Bride". He was well established as a cult director, but from this movie he would go on to make universally appealing movies like "Misery" and "A Few Good Men".
Billy Crystal would host the Oscars the next year for his first time...starting what almost become a tradition. Meg Ryan went on to star opposite Tom Hanks "Joe Versus the Volcano" and "Sleepless in Seattle" which would reunite her with the real star of "When Harry Met Sally"—Nora Ephron.
This woman crafted one of the best scripts in movie history. It's funny, fast-paced, and deeply human.
It's really interesting to think that the script for "Dead Poets Society" could beat out both this one the script for "sex, lies, and videotape", and "Do the Right Thing".
The most famous scene is funny—but the picture is so much more than that. I consider it to be a masterpiece...rarely appreciated like it should be. Perhaps it's Rob Reiner's finest film...and that's saying a lot.
Score: 4 out of 4 stars
Posted by Micah Jones