Film review: Sleepless in Seattle (1993), directed by Nora Ephron
First time I’ve seen this movie, actually, even though it’s nearly 20 years old now. Well, first time for everything!
It stars Annie Reed (Meg Ryan). She lives with fiancé Walter (Bill Pullman) and everything seems to be coming along nicely in her life, even if she’s starting to have doubts about the relationship. On the way home from work on Christmas Eve, she listens to a phone-in show on the car radio.
A young boy called Jonah (Ross Malinger) has phoned up to ask Dr Martha to have a word with his dad. The topic of the show is “Christmas Wishes” and Jonah wishes for his father to get a wife, because he’s been very unhappy ever since Jonah’s mother died a year and a half ago. Sam Baldwin (Tom Hanks), Jonah’s dad, comes on the phone and talks about the love for his wife and the loss, touching the hearts of many a woman out there. Including that of Annie.
Thousands of women start writing to the Baldwins, offering their hands in marriage, but Sam isn’t having any of it, and nor is Jonah. Sam then starts dating a colleague whom Jonah hates, and there’s this one letter that arrives … from a woman called Annie, who seems to be such a great match, and she wants to meet up …
I haven’t seen An Affair to Remember, which seems to have inspired this one, but it sounds like it’s the sort of plot that have you frustrated because it’s “OR YOU COULD JUST TALK TO EACH OTHER AND THERE WOULDN’T BE AN ISSUE!!” going on. It’s also the sort of film that makes you have unrealistic expectations about love, which is Annie’s issue. Her life with Walter is going through the motions but is not very exciting. Suddenly, she finds something that is, and develops a long distance crush on a man she’s never met, just because he spoke so heartfelt on the radio. She even goes to Seattle to stalk him, which is disturbing when you think about it. “But it’s just so darn cute!” you might say. Yes, yes it is. But it’s still disturbing!
It’s billed as a romantic comedy, but it doesn’t have many laughs in it. The biggest one for me was probably when Sam and a couple sat around the table and the guys had just dismissed the woman’s emotional outbursts regarding An Affair to Remember when they themselves had a good cry about the ending of The Dirty Dozen!
Other than that, it was more sad than funny, but it left me with a feeling of “awwww”. Also, the ending very nearly had me cry, so I guess it was a pretty good film after all. It was touching, but at times felt like it was stretching credibility a bit. (Eight-year-olds (?) being that computer-booking savvy? In 1992? Really? You’re perfectly happy to get involved in a new relationship a mere 1½ years after the death of the love of your life?) Still, it’s a feel-good movie and it’s full of hope and makes you feel as if your dreams can come true and that love will always be worth hoping for.
3.75 out of 5 Empire State Buildings.