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Can a romantic comedy from the end of the 80s still move us, in the era of smartphones and societal turmoil? If it’s WHEN HARRY MEETS SALLY, the answer is definitely yes.
WHEN HARRY MEETS SALLY has it become obsolete? In the age of fast-food dating apps and the claims of the single thirties assumed, sure that the love affairs of these socialite New Yorkers straight out of the 80s seem very distant. Notwithstanding, anyone who has never smiled at the rant about Harry’s male-female friendship or Sally’s fake orgasm must be seriously lacking in humor. Also, as long as we play the game, the final declaration will always cause a heartbeat. Finally, perhaps among all the ordinary love stories, that of Harry and Sally remains inevitably timeless …
Miracle on Houston Street
Of course, the structure of the film remains most heard. Encounter / seduction / emerging love / conflict / reunion… We know the song. The screenwriter Nora Ephron has indeed greatly illustrated itself in the register of romcom, otherwise known as “romantic comedy”. We also owe him the most convenient White Nights in Seattle and the least successful You have a mess @ ge. In WHEN HARRY MEETS SALLY, she plays, with the director Rob reiner, a variation on the codes of the genre. Where everything is announced, nothing is obvious. The romance, however banal, of Harry and Sally takes on a surprising aspect. In this lies all the intelligence of the film: perhaps our jaded modern lives, from the 80s until today, have made us forget that love, however ordinary it may seem, is always a miracle. And it is this miracle that describes WHEN HARRY MEETS SALLY .
This miracle, we glimpse first in these sketches, which intersect the film, where married couples tell their love stories. They are lambda people, deploying lambda stories. Notwithstanding, these stories are all charming. Since they all end with a look, a smile, a caress, filled with tenderness. WHEN HARRY MEETS SALLY differs from other romantic comedies by its delicate poetry. Especially in its staging. Rob reiner films New York in all its grandeur, in a setting that overlooks the characters: city dwellers among other city dwellers. It is only when the feeling interferes, that the relationship is woven, that the image tightens on the faces of Billy crystal and Meg ryan. Intimacy is created on screen as love grows.
However, the course is not without turmoil. Indeed, the two protagonists first nourish a strong friendship, not unequivocal. This complicity reaches its climax in a marvelous splitscreen, as the cinema no longer does today. On the left, we see him, hanging on the phone with his friend, on the right of the screen. Looks like they share the same bed. It is both sweet and warm, and touching. And our hearts break when the illusion is lost. She turns off the light. He remains in his sheets, desperately alone with his insomnia. Then, fade to black…. And always, those sweet, typically New York jazz notes. That we will readily admit borrowed from Woody allen. After all, it had to be Rob reiner also has his references, before offering them himself.
Harry, Sally & us
Through the prism of today, we often reproach WHEN HARRY MEETS SALLY to develop an archaic point. The main argument is that we meet young women desperate not to be married at the age of 30 or 30. However, that is not the question. The point is not to hurry to find a husband before any expiration date. The question is, in reality, to find this soul mate. This person who will always love us with absolute love, no matter what. Here comes the character of Carrie Fischer, the most cynical and radical character about this alleged race against time. Who goes astray, however, in a romance with a married man, without being able to get rid of it. She will meet Harry’s best friend on her way. And therefore, the obvious. Their marriage then falls as a loving celebration. And not as a necessary step, as some detractors would like us to believe.
However, we cringe a little at the attitude of Harry… Who pursues Sally in the corridors of the airport. Who harasses her on the phone and leaves her countless messages. And this, until she picks up. Forgiveness turns out to be somewhat easy, but everything is however well and truly forgiven during his final declaration. A treasure of writing that Billy crystal proclaims with all the charisma and verve of which he is capable. He loves everything about Sally, even its most annoying flaws. Love, pure and simple. As has never been described. Timeless and universal. All the more obvious since these two have learned to love each other through a friendship without sexual desire at first. A man-woman friendship that Harry considered impossible. WHEN HARRY MEETS SALLY turns out to be an ode to human relations. In all their complexity and paradoxes. As such, despite the weight of years, it certainly remains the absolute romantic comedy. The one who will always warm hearts.
• Original title : When Harry puts Sally
• Production : Rob reiner
• Scenario: Nora Ephron
• Main actors : Meg Ryan, Billy Crystal, Carrie Fischer
• Release date : July 21, 1989
• Duration : 1h36min