I'm going to assume that we all know the movie. And it's wonderful. It's fabulous. The comic timing, the editing, the pacing, the colors, the juxtopositions, the split screens, the racial/ethnic undertones, the City are all incredible. Just so good.
Harry and Sally are just complex enough that the film can hold up over time and it has several canonical scenes spurring debates throughout the ages. (I mean, the movie is almost 17 years old. That's practically FOREVER.) I'm in no mood to pander to you and tell you all of the ways in which this film is gold. I have a very specific question.
What's with the ending?
Harry comes to his senses and realizes exactly what he's supposed to realize; he loves Sally and wants to be with her. He even spouts a perfect "I Love You" Monologue:
I love that you get cold when it's 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you're looking at me like I'm nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it's not because I'm lonely, and it's not because it's New Year's Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.
How much do I want someone to say that to me? Hell, I could even write it beforehand and give it to him; I wouldn't want him to strain himself. My response (and Sally and I are VERY similar) would be to promptly pick myself up off the floor (I would have buckled at "sleep at night"), grab him, kiss him, and say, "Really? Go on..."
But no. Not Sally. She says that she hates him. She hates him because he says things that make it impossible to hate him. At this point, I'm with her, a bit. Alright, Sally. You want to be mad. Mad is a graspable emotion. It makes sense and has a standard protocol. It's fun to hold onto. There's always something to do. But he's so great, and so you're struggling. Rightly so. Struggle, struggle, struggle.
But then she just repeats, "I hate you. I hate you. [shakes head, tears up, and mouths again] I hate you." And then he kisses her! And they kiss! And then you have the pullback to the crowd and the cut to them discussing their marriage and happiness.
Am I the only one who finds this disconcerting? Do I hate conflict that much? Why does he kiss her? She just told him she hates him! Shouldn't that wound him a bit? Shouldn't he care if she hates him? Or shouldn't he worry that she still wants to hate him? If I confessed my love to my best friend and then he said he hated me and started to cry, I couldn't kiss him. I would cry too. "What did I say? What did I do wrong? I love you!"
The repeated, "I hate you" would just be such a blow to my ego that I couldn't kiss him right after. Is Harry cockier than I am? Is he so confident that she can't cancel out his determination? Is this a case of "when you know, you know"? Is love when both of you understand that the words coming out of your mouth are false?
I don't know how I feel about that. Maybe I've never had true love. Maybe I'm more emotionally specific than most people. Maybe my skin is too thin. But I don't think I could kiss someone after they say they hate me.
And what does it mean that it's okay that he did it? What kinds of gender ramifications does it have? "Don't listen to the crazy woman. She doesn't know what she's talking about! Kiss her! Win her!" Could it ever work the other way? He would say, "I hate you" and that would be it. Over.
Do you think this is unsettling?