Brian Lundin

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Is there a better romantic comedy than When Harry Met Sally? I don’t think so. Why does it work so well? Why is it practically genre-defining? I’ll tell you: conflict. Stories don’t work unless there is a meaningful conflict at their heart. It’s a universal rule of storytelling. (And no, I’m not impressed by the “exceptions.”) But the conflict in When Harry Met Sally works well on three levels. A diagram showing the relationship of intellectual, internal, and external conflicts to each other. The intellectual conflict—the conflict of ideas—in this movie is golden. An age-old debate that everyone has an opinion on: can men and women be friends? Sally says yes, but of course Harry says no. Because, you know, “the sex stuff gets in the way.” The rest of the film works hard to answer that question. Every moment of conflict in the movie argues the point one way or the other. It’s brilliant.

Curious about how this all works? Check out my discussion of the conflict in this film in the latest issue of my new newsletter.

27 Jul 2019