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When Harry Met Sally

Year: 1989
Director: Rob Reiner
Writer: Nora Ephron
Cast: Meg Ryan, Billy Crystal, Carrie Fisher, Bruno Kirby
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The big guns of 1980's romantic comedies come together to produce the most iconic of its kind, one that still resonates today with legions of fans.

As famous for the fake orgasm scene as it is for the story, it's based on a simple premise; can men and women be friends, or does sex - in some form or another - always ruin it?

The rocky friendship of Harry (Crystal) and Sally (Ryan), starts when they drive cross country in the late 70s during their college break.

Seemingly polar opposites, the laid-back, got-it-all-worked-out Harry gets on uptight Sally's nerves so much they have no desire to see each other ever again on their arrival in New York.

Over the ensuing years, they keep bumping into each other and despite themselves, strike up the friendship Harry's always been adamant can't happen.

Nursing each other through failed relationships, crises in various friends' lives and late night TV movies, they become inseparable and the inherent jealousy and desire Harry always said was there rears its ugly head before they decide they've always loved each other after all and get married. It almost seems to undo the point of the rest of the story but hey, this is a romance.

I saw this after Reiner's later movie about the foibles of love - The Story of Us (which I was in the minority of really enjoying), and it confirmed for me that he and writer Ephron captured the vagaries of navigating the human heart in the modern age beautifully and with humour that was both biting and cutely inoffensive.

Ephron, of course, went on to make her name in the director's seat of some of the biggest romantic comedies of the 90's (with Ryan frequently in tow). Crystal has never really deviated from the character of Harry (or tried to), which ensures his enduring appeal; we know we're going to get a likeable hero guy with lots of quips and wisecracks.

Ryan displays some of the sharpness that was missing from the likes of You've Got Mail and Sleepless in Seattle, when she was just a sickly sweet flavoured doll on top of a cake, and reminds us that she's a really skilled actress.

It lingers lovingly across the contemporary New York that many filmmakers love so much - to the extent that it's edging into Woody Allen territory, as if Reiner intended to make his own New York Stories.

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