ReelRetro: Sleepless in Seattle

ReelRetro: Sleepless in Seattle


There are some films that just never seem to date, some rom-coms that even your hubby will watch with little moaning,  some vhs’ that earn $64 million in rentals in the US alone…This is one of those timeless classics…not that it necessarily deserves to be.

 Back in 1993 when Tom Hanks was still attractive and Meg Ryan less wrinkly, Sleepless In Seattle hit screens charming people the world over. Inspired by the 1957 film An Affair to Remember, it tells of down in the dumps widower Sam (Hanks) who is coerced by his son to pour his heart out to a pushy night radio talk show host.

Thousands of miles away, recently engaged Annie is listening in and instantly falls in love with this highly sentimental mope.  She, like any determined woman, sets out to get what she wants: the man of her dreams.

It’s a simple (though rather ludicrous) premise: what sane woman would leave behind an adoring (though admittedly boring) fiancée to get a look at some bloke she heard of the radio late one night – even if that bloke is Tom Hanks at his spunkiest?! Luckily Ryan’s scatty portrayal manages to convince us that her character has an underlying element of crazy that might just offer a base of believability for us to cling to.

Despite it’s simplicity, there is also a boldness to the script: Hanks and Ryan share a grand total of three minutes screen time, relying upon the audience’s interest being sustained purely by their hopes that these two possibly destined souls may meet. Luckily those few screen-sharing moments sparkle with that “magic” they keep talking about, and the individual story arcs of Tommy and Annie are engaging enough on their own.

The cinematography is solid with some nice sweeping establishing shots, and the performances are great even today. The soundtrack is a little dated yet still charming, though it really is way too literal for its own good with obviously relatable lyrics dominating some scenes.

For a formulaic film, it is also refreshing to see some improvisation taking place to heighten comedy, namely the scene of Hanks and friend crying over the Dirty Dozen which is, reportedly, entirely improvised.

It may have just celebrated it’s 19th birthday, but Sleepless in Seattle still captures the hopeless romantic in all of us. It’s estimated to have made over $230 million worldwide. It’s far from an outstanding film so it’s ongoing popularity is, in some ways, a mystery. But I (like everyone else) still love it!

(Oh and it’s sh*ts all over the try hard Hanks/Ryan reinvention You’ve Got Mail)

I rate it 3.5 stars.