Saturday, 6 September 2008

No.60 : When Harry Met Sally...

 When Harry Met Sally at the IMDb

Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan star in this ‘he said, she said’ romantic comedy that remains the definitive title in that threadbare genre.

The film opens in 1977 with Billy and Meg sharing an 18 hour car journey across America. The trip is one of convenience as both have other partners but their relationship sparks from the off. Although Billy’s sexist and Meg’s compulsive personalities clash we the viewer know that they are a good match, even if they don’t.

The pair meet again five years later in an airport and again get along well, albeit in the form of an argument. A further five years down the line sees the couple both single and in New York and a friendship tentatively develops. Although Billy states he can’t have a woman as a friend as he’s always thinking about sleeping with her, he manages to convince himself that it’ll be different with Meg.

His pal Bruno Kirby and hers Princess Leia try to set up the pair with other people, but the tables are turned when the friends get engaged leaving Billy and Meg alone with each other. When Meg gets dumped and calls Billy for comfort the pair have sex, affecting the relationship to the point of destruction. As their friends’ wedding approaches, Billy and Meg reappraise what they mean to each other and despite some reluctance to go for it love will probably conquer all.

Although it’s a bit soppy and sentimental I quite like this film. It’s appeal is mostly down to the two leads who make a good pair and the crackling dialogue that riffs along at fantastic pace. I also like the episodic nature that jumps across time using real anecdotes of couples meeting spoken by them on a couch as bumpers. There is a nice if predictable treat in this towards the end.

The ‘will they won’t they’ dilemma was a bit overblown, especially as the answer is given away in the film’s poster. The picture obviously did well as it speaks to people about their relationships in a true and identifiable way. No doubt endless streams of couples left the cinema saying ‘that bit was just like you’. The main argument about men wanting to sleep with women rather than have them as friends was pretty obvious but I’m sure enough women would be surprised to keep it in as an educational point. The film pans out pretty much the way Billy Crystal said it would at the start, so Q.E.D. there. At least they had fun getting us there!

The famous deli demonstration still raises a smile but I preferred the Billy and Bruno scenes where they debate their own love lives at the football game or batting cages. The script by Nora Ephron was very snappy and wise and she must have had a bloke giving input - bloody traitor!

Best Bit : Billy fakes regret at shagging Meg Ryan
‘W’ Score 18/23

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