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Blu-ray Review: When Harry Met Sally…: 30th Anniversary Edition

January 9, 2019

By John Corrado

Watching When Harry Met Sally… again, which I had the pleasure of doing the other night thanks to the new 30th anniversary edition that Shout Select just put out on Blu-ray, it’s easy to see why the film is still regarded as one of the greatest romantic comedies of all time.

Directed by Rob Reiner, and featuring a great screenplay by Nora Ephron that is filled with extremely quotable dialogue and sharp observations on relationships that are as witty as they are wise, When Harry Met Sally… is one of those films that manages to be highly enjoyable on the surface while also satisfying on a deeper level.

The film details the years-long friendship between Harry Burns (Billy Crystal) and Sally Albright (Meg Ryan) who, after sharing a fateful drive from Chicago to New York together after college, end up running into each other over the next decade. Harry and Sally are both quirky and neurotic in their own unique ways, but as time passes by, they go from clashing with each other to realizing that their differences are also what makes them the perfect match.

There is a buoyancy to the film, as the characters banter back and forth over extended dialogue scenes, with the two central characters often playfully arguing with each other as they strive to find common ground. The central question being asked by Ephron’s screenplay is whether men and women can really be friends, or if sexual feelings will always get in the way, and her writing is both honest and remarkably balanced, believably showing things from both the female and male perspective.

The film is often extremely funny – the faked orgasm in Katz’s Deli is still incredibly amusing, and has become an iconic moment for a reason – but there is a great deal of poignancy to it as well, framed by scenes of older couples sitting on a couch talking about how they met. Ephron’s sparkling and insightful script is matched perfectly by Reiner’s classy direction, as the lovely soundtrack of piano and jazz music gives a mature and sophisticated feel to the film, and Barry Sonnenfeld’s cinematography beautifully captures the sights of New York throughout the changing seasons.

Ephron would of course go on to direct her own films, even teaming up again with Meg Ryan for the fellow classics Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail, but When Harry Met Sally… is probably her crowning achievement. There are so many little things that make the film great that it’s hard to list them all. It’s a great New York movie, perfectly capturing the inherent romanticism of the city, at least how it was in the 1980s, and it’s a great holiday movie as well, with key moments taking place at Christmas and on New Year’s Eve.

The film is brought to life by the extremely likeable performances of Crystal and Ryan, who deliver inarguably the most iconic roles of their respective careers. They are matched by delightful supporting work from Bruno Kirby and Carrie Fisher, who share their own story arc as the best friends of these titular characters. This is a film that feels both timeless and entirely of its time, and it’s a true classic in every sense of the word.

The Blu-ray features a new 4K scan of the original camera negative that looks gorgeous, along with a new long-form interview with Crystal and Reiner entitled Scenes from a Friendship. A selection of archival featurettes from previous releases (How Harry Met Sally; It All Started Like This; What Harry Meeting Sally Meant; I Love New York; So, Can Men and Women Really Be Friends?; Creating Harry; Stories of Love; When Rob Met Billy) are also included, along with several deleted scenes, a music video by Harry Connick Jr., and the film’s theatrical trailer.

When Harry Met Sally…: 30th Anniversary Edition is a Shout! Factory release. It’s 96 minutes and rated R.

Street Date: January 8th, 2019

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