When Harry Met Sally might just be my favourite film.
It’s ‘cool’ to say that Mulholland Drive is your favourite film. But secretly, deep-down, you don’t really understand it at all. You find it way too long, fell asleep half way through, and when you woke up didn’t even bother rewinding it as it didn’t make a difference anyway. You’ve spent hours of your life at parties, or on awful first dates, talking to some guy called Anton about the genius of it all, smiling and nodding along, secretly hoping that he doesn’t discuss anything beyond the main plot because, honestly, you can’t remember anything else.
Much like my relationship with music, I’m done with turning my nose up at the popular, mainstream, well-known, or that where the subject matter might not be the most edgy.
When I put all of that snobbery aside, I’m ready to admit that I adore everything about When Harry Met Sally. It always has been, and always will be, right up there for me.
It’s the perfect romantic comedy, without the obvious, formulaic, romance. The ever-fabulous Nora Ephron wrote the wonderful screenplay, Rob Reiner directed, Meg Ryan is deliciously adorable and Billy Crystal is strangely cute with his turtlenecks and sarcasm – I didn’t think I liked either actor until I saw this film. Carrie Fisher is the straight talking Best Friend we all wish we had. It launched the career of Harry Connick Jr. with his soundtrack of jazz standards that fit perfectly, and are never cheesy, even though they really would be in any other film.
It’s so much more than ‘the orgasm diner scene’. Though on each of my visits to New York I have been to Katz’s Deli and smiled at the hanging sign, above that table, proclaiming that ‘this is the When Harry Met Sally spot’. To be honest, I always just went to Katz’s for the pastrami sandwiches and plates of pickles, rather than this pop culture nod. But on each subsequent re-watch of the film, I’m so happy and soothed to look back and see that the Deli is 100% unchanged from how it was shown here in 1989 – and has probably never changed in all of its years of operation.
When Harry Met Sally is smart, funny and sweet. It contains just the right amounts of saccharine without being sickly, yet it’s honest, and real, without ever being bitter or depressing. It’s Sex and the City without the bad puns. It’s Sleepless in Seattle without smartarse kids and implausibility. It’s utterly relatable, no matter what age I’ve watched it at. And never fails to have me bawling at the end – I’m not sure whether that’s because I’m happy or sad – It’s 50/50, and I like that about it.
It bolsters you if you watch it when you’re in love. And it comforts you if you watch it if you’re alone or your heart is sore.
Most of all, it’s a perfect Love Letter to New York.
New York – the third lead character, very much in the way that it was in the Woody Allen greats of the 70’s like Annie Hall and Manhattan…but y’know…without the Woody Allen ick factor.
The city glows, beams, seduces and makes my heart swell and burst with joy. I wish I was there. I wish I was them. My love for the city is endless, and for 96 minutes of screen time, I’m transported.
New York, my True Love that never lets me down and is always there. Timeless and immortal on film.
I might cry at the end because quietly I’m wishing I had a Harry, but I will always have New York.
And in another six months I’ll sit down, rewatch, and feel these things over again.
I love you When Harry Met Sally.
I love you New York.
P.S. This is a really great video about what makes When Harry Met Sally’s screenplay so great. It’s a really worthwhile and interesting watch.