Rules of Relationships are made Crystal Clear
"It Had to Be you" is the wonderful opening music to "When Harry Met Sally..." a movie which despite being in it's 20 years still remains one of the best romantic comedies to have ever graced the big screen. Written by Nora Ephron and directed by Rob Reiner it is both fun and romantic but also stunningly clever managing to combine nearly every aspect of relationships into one movie about one couple without it feeling overly contrived. It takes you on an almost fantasy journey through the ups and downs of relationships wooing you with wit and soft gentle yet honest romance.
Having graduated from the University of Chicago Harry Burns (Billy Crystal - The Princess Bride) and Sally Albright (Meg Ryan - Innerspace) find themselves sharing a ride as they head off to New York, but they are like chalk and cheese as each has different opinions on just about everything including relationships and the fact according to Harry men and women can never just be friends. Over the next 10 years they occasionally bump into each other and find themselves becoming best friends. Whilst a romance starts to form neither wants to admit to it.
The way "When Harry Met Sally..." is made is in itself pretty clever covering an eleven year period in the lives of Harry Burns and Sally Albright but interspersed with interview like footage where older couples regale us with how they met, the troubles before they met and so on, all of which work like old fashioned scene links which hint towards the next aspect of Harry and Sally's friendship/ relationship. It's a wonderful touch not only giving a little sentimental gloss as these delightful often funny couples tell us their stories but also helping to make the up and down relationship of Harry and Sally all the more believable.
The cleverness doesn't stop there and rather than being just a fluff filled romantic comedy which follows the roller coaster of relationships it provides us with some insightful moments such as when Harry explains to Sally that a man can never just be friends with an attractive woman because the sex will always be there. It's brilliantly delivered to make you think but it is also funny and these insightful moments continue through out "When Harry Met Sally..." as usually Harry, who is almost a student of life, delivers some wonderfully clever insight in to the rules of relationships.
Of course there are many humorous scenes with many of them revolving around Billy Crystal's rapier delivery of dialogue and Meg Ryan's dewy eyed cuteness, working perfectly in harmony to fill nearly every scene with a moment of pleasant mirth. But of course there are those memorable scenes with the fake orgasm in the diner scene going down in cinematic history as one of the most memorable as is the quote "I'll have what she's having".
Whilst all these moments of humour spring up to lighten every scene it also is also quite romantic as it covers all those facets of relationships especially as having become friends after each of their relationships soured, Harry and Sally slowly realise that they are in love with each other. It sort of switches the emphasis of the movie as gone are most of the dry witticisms over why relationships fail and starts to cause you to will Harry and Sally to find love with each other. Director Rob Reiner handles all this quite brilliantly with scenes cleverly inclinating of those feelings starting to form whilst never relying on out of place fluff to deliver that sense of romance.
There is no doubt that Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan are the stars of "When Harry Met Sally..." and the partnership works with Crystal providing an entertaining romantic lead as the sceptical Harry something he would do again in "Forget Paris" whilst Ryan delivers that vulnerable yet feisty female lead which she went on to deliver brilliantly in the likes of "Sleepless in Seattle". But they are also helped by two good supporting performances from Bruno Kirby and Carrie Fisher as Jess and Marie, friends of Harry and Sally who provide not so much a secondary storyline but distraction to stop it feeling all one sided.
What this all boils down to is that "When Harry Met Sally..." is still after 20 years one of the best romantic comedies to have hit the big screen. With the clever production which manages to incorporate so many facets of relationships it is remarkably believable. Plus with it filled full of insightful and dry witticisms against a simmering romantic under current it draws you in even when it may feel like it's running out of steam.