There are few films as perfectly, eloquently pitched as When Harry Met Sally…
Posing the question, “can men and women ever just be friends?”, Rob Reiner and Nora Ephron’s endlessly quotable 1989 classic explores the dynamic relationship between a casually cynical man and an optimistically high maintenance woman as their lives continue to cross paths in New York City.
Far from star-crossed lovers (but with an unusual habit of running into each other), Harry and Sally tread strangely between the lines of enmity, friendship and love over 12 years, bringing their other friends together along the way.
Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, the film has long been regarded as not only a revered archetype for romantic comedies, but also as one of the best and most beloved in the genre, and it isn’t hard to see why.
There is so much to love. Nora Ephron’s Oscar-nominated screenplay isn’t heavy with drama or huge gags, but is instead steeped in casual, intimate conversations and touching testimonials that are perfectly tuned to evoke humour, candour and pathos all at once. Set against an autumnal New York City backdrop, with a big-band jazz soundtrack led by Harry Connick Jr., it’s easy to be swept up into Harry and Sally’s world – one corner of which still exists in our own world, in the form of Katz’s Delicatessen in Manhattan, where people still flock to “have what she’s having”, ala the famous fake orgasm scene.
But of course, what cements the film and ultimately wins its iconic status, is the abundantly charismatic central performances. Adopting improvisational flair wherever possible, Billy Crystal’s wry musings and exuberant comic outbursts make the potentially unlikeable character of Harry seem loveable. Meanwhile, the twinkly, blue-eyed iridescence that glows from Meg Ryan’s breakout performance – that can be as fiery and unpredictable as it is sweet-natured – shines just as brightly now as it did three decades ago. Together, their chemistry is as sweet and inviting as pecan pie.
The late, great Carrie Fisher also makes a memorable appearance within the supporting cast, as Sally’s romantically troubled friend Marie.
Funny, relatable and joyously easy to watch, When Harry Met Sally… is a true contemporary classic that I, for one, can’t wait to revisit on the big screen.
When Harry Met Sally… is showing at Harbour Lights Picturehouse on Saturday 18th May at 2:30pm.Book now