by Marlow Stern.
I think it’s safe to say that, as a filmmaker, Nora Ephron has been a godsend to any aspiring woman in this business. Her body of work is an eternal reply to the questions “Are women funny? Can women direct?” Everything she did was unbelievably elegant, hilarious, and warm—basically everything anyone aspires to when they’re writing a romantic comedy, but I don’t think anyone will ever do it as well as she did. I don’t know if there is an heir to Nora Ephron working today; she was singular in that way.
When I think about Sally from When Harry Met Sally, we’ve seen the archetype of the uptight, neurotic woman in romantic comedies before, but Sally is real. That’s the difference. There’s an intelligence there and she doesn’t just function as the uptight foil to Billy Crystal; she’s a multidimensional character with her own story and desires. I think that movie’s a masterpiece. There’s that amazing scene where Billy Crystal goes in to comfort her, and she says, “I’m going to be 40!” The way she’s sobbing, the scene is just so well-directed because it’s screwball comedy the way Meg Ryan’s playing it, but at the same time, it’s just so unbelievably funny and real.
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