Sleepless in Seattle has become a bit of a classic, especially for those of us who embrace all things romantic. With references to one of the ultimate cinematic romances, An Affair to Remember, writer/director Nora Ephron delivers a witty and touching film, something eminently watchable.
Nora Ephron was one of the great writers of our time, and while her stand-out is When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle is just as solid. It is one of those films that always does the rounds on television at the holiday season, but once it’s on it’s hard to turn off. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, who were at their peaks in the nineties, are both fantastic. Ephron had a knack for giving us great ‘B’ characters – the best friends and side-kicks are equally as well drawn as their leads, and Rosie O’Donnell and Rob Reiner are as good in their supporting roles as their leading counterparts.
Hanks is a grieving widower Sam, living in Seattle with his son Jonah, trying to survive loneliness and single parenthood. On Christmas Eve, Jonah phones a talkback radio host, and live on the air confesses his fathers loneliness, forcing Sam to share with the host – and the rest of America – how much he loved and misses his departed wife. Sam’s tale is quite touching to the women listening in, including Annie (Ryan), who is driving through the night to be with her fiancé Walter’s family.
Despite being in a relationship with Walter (Bill Pullman), Annie feels that there is some connection with Sam. Believing in the possibility of true love, Annie decides to write to Sam, along with every other woman in America with a radio. She suggests that they meet in New York atop the Empire State Building on Valentine’s Day.
When Jonah reads Annie’s letter he decides she is the woman for his dad, and sets out to see that Annie and Sam meet. Sam is now dating again and has no interest in Jonah’s insistence about meeting Annie. As children in film are wont to do, Jonah takes matters into his own hands, running away to New York in order to meet Annie as she has suggested.
This film is completely delightful, so very well written. The dialogue is fantastic – at Annie’s family Christmas dinner her mother asks, ‘We had some champagne, what did we use it for?’, Annie’s brother responds, ‘Uncle Milton’s Parole’. As with all of Ephron’s work, the film is dripping with class. It is smart and funny, well acted and produced. Sublimely romantic, this is a wonderful film to cuddle up with in preparation for the festive season.