Reel Matt

This blog started as my movie marathon — watching a movie a day for a whole year — and has continued as a place for me to write reviews about movies, TV, and various other items.



Oscar Predictions

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When Harry Met Sally...

Film #223


Harry and Sally have known each other for years, and are very good friends, but they fear sex would ruin the friendship.

Year 1, Day 220

BEFORE: On this Tuesday I’ve decided to treat myself to one of my most anticipated films of this romance chain, When Harry Met Sally…. Of all the romantic comedies, this film is typically listed among the top and with both Billy Crystal (last seen in Parental Guidance) and Meg Ryan (last seen all the way back at the beginning of the marathon in Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail) the chances of this film living up to the hype are pretty good.

AFTER: This is one of those films that is very good but will never be able to live up to the hype. Much like Flight, I had extraordinarily high expectations going into the film that would have been hard to match. I was confident When Harry Met Sally… could meet my them, but sadly it didn’t.

The strongest part of the film had to be the writing. Nora Ephron (who both wrote and directed the two aforementioned Meg Ryan films) brought her distinct style of conversational dialogue to the film which was beautifully delivered by Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan). Not only is it effective at telling the story mostly through their interactions, but the observational/philosophical view on relationships and other aspects of life helped with character development and just make the film interesting. I found myself waiting for the next scene to see what witty thing Harry would say next or how Sally would dismiss it as ridiculous. Even the secondary characters, Jess (Bruno Kirby) and Marie (Carrie Fisher) key among them, added some interesting twists and turns to the story and provided Harry and Sally people to play off of to grow even more. Something that struck me as odd to begin with but did grow on me was including a bunch of couples telling stories of how they met. It first struck me as cute, then I felt it was taking away from the film and somewhat detrimental, but then it swung back around and really showed the true purpose of the film (which, if I had any common sense, I would have realized before the film even started).

But, When Harry Met Sally… fell short. It may be unfair to not give it five stars because it didn’t live up to my expectations (almost like grading different kids in the same class in different ways - it’s one class, everyone should be graded the same) but I’m taking points off nonetheless. Now I’m not doing it completely without merit. At parts throughout the film, especially towards the beginning, it did seem to drag on a bit. I’m chalking it up to the fact that these are brand new characters and you’re immediately being thrown into their lives so it’s a bit of a shock. Once the film progresses and you learn more about them, their interactions becomes natural and commonplace. Also, going back to my comment about the intercut scenes of couples telling stories about their first encounter, while I grew to understand the purpose, and ultimately appreciated these interludes, the same result could have been achieved with less. Between almost every jump in time there is another story and if they were spaced out a bit more, it could have been more effective.

In terms of a recommendation, you’ll be better off seeing When Harry Met Sally… then not. It is a classic with many memorable scenes and lines. And while it may not live up to the hype, it is still a very good film and provides a lot of entertainment.

RATING: 4 out of 5