Directed by: Rob Reiner

Starring: Billy Crystal, Meg Ryan, Carrie Fisher, Bruno Kirby, Steven Ford, Lisa Jane Persky, Michelle Nicastro, Kevin Rooney, Harley Kozak, Franc Luz, Tracy Reiner, Estelle Reiner

Can men and women ever just be friends?

Admittedly not being a fan of the romance genre, my expectations were quite squat when this film was recommended to me. Boy, were my expectations ever backhand-slapped this hard. The story follows freshly-graduated Sally Albright and Harry Burns, who are first immersed in each other’s (mandatory) company on a drive to New York City. Harry is then dating Sally’s friend, a fact which led to an assortment of complications when Sally identifies that the boy is trying to make a move on her. Throughout the ride they exchange opposing views on male-female relationships, and after an edgy exchange, they ultimately separate on bad terms. Five years later, their paths re-intersect in an airport, where they reveal to each other that both of them are involved in happy affiliations, and Harry attempts to strike up a friendship with the lady, using the aid of a few lies and some allegations that there are some exceptions to his previously mentioned male-female-friendships-are-urban-myths theory. Again, they separate on bad terms. It’s another five years later, after Harry’s divorce and Sally’s breakup, that they meet for a third time at fate’s bidding – and this time they do decide to be friends.

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Frankly, this is one of the films whose timelessness overcomes all its technological backwardness. If anything, the time setting only multiplies its charm by tenfold. This movie introduced to me a lot of household concepts which I wasn’t ever really forced to grasp before, such as the hypothetical “transitional person” and men’s attraction-based take on inter-gender relations.

Character-wise, the movie’s people, although lacking in diversity, are all so striking. Each one has their own lives. The screenplay director does a spectacular job at infusing all the little quirks into everyone’s individuality. Even if they make sure that the duo stands out and the supporting cast are rooted on existing stereotypes, each has their own idiosyncratic background, distinctive traits and all.

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The film is slow-paced, but I understood that the minutes are faithfully squandered on detail – elements all crucial to the movie’s themes. Every word is significant, but subtly so; the dialogue is witty such that most times I am obliged to summon all my willpower to resist the urge to applaud. If you seek a simple, golden, compelling romance, then this is the film for you.

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