Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan) first meet as students, when they share a disagreeable drive from Chicago to New York. Over the course of the next 10 years they keep bumping into each other at various intervals, which generally seem to coincide with one of them having an emotional trauma. Will their platonic relationship turn into something more? Rob Reiner's hugely successful romantic comedy features Meg Ryan infamously faking an orgasm in a Manhattan deli.
Highly influential, When Harry Met Sally
revitalised (in 1988) the moribund romantic comedy genre, made a superstar of Meg Ryan, and in two minutes of heavy breathing gave cinema one of its most memorable scenes. Set over 12 years in New York, young professionals Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Ryan) go from meeting to becoming friends to, well--this is a romantic comedy. Benefiting from an observant and witty script by Nora Ephron, it also offers insight into the differences between men and women. More importantly it's very funny, though the most hilarious scene is also the least believable: Sally is really too conventional to do that
in a crowded restaurant. Knowingly modern, the picture's snappy one liners, neurotic honesty and straight-to-camera interludes are in the tradition of Woody Allen's New York Jewish humour, a prime example being Annie Hall
(1976), while the inspired use of standards not only made a star of Harry Connick Jnr. but started a trend developed in Everyone Says I Love You
(1996) and Love's Labour's Lost
(2000). Perfectly played, with excellent support from Carrie Fisher, When Harry Met Sally
is the archetypal modern romantic comedy.
On the DVD: There's an excellent 33-minute documentary made in 2000 which interviews all the key players talking candidly not so much about how the film was made but why, and revealing just how much of it is actually based upon director Rob Reiner and star Billy Crystal's own experiences and personalities (the story about Reiner acting out the fake orgasm scene for Meg Ryan is priceless). There are seven short deleted scenes (easy to see why they didn't make the final cut) and a commentary track by Reiner, which contains a lot of space and does little more than repeat the information in the documentary. The anamorphically enhanced 1.77: 1 picture though a touch grainy in dark scenes is generally rich and detailed with excellent colour. Audio is stereo, and only blossoms when there is a song on the soundtrack. There are 14 subtitle options including English for Hard of Hearing.--Gary S Dalkin
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