Wonderfully saccharine, filled with classic romantic songs, and Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in their second on-screen pairing, Sleepless in Seattle from Nora Ephron remains an enjoyable 90s rom-com. It is also the next recommendation from the Great Movies – 100 Years of Film book following my screening of Pretty Woman.
Recently widowed, and now a single father, Sam Baldwin (Hanks) is just trying to get a new start on life in Seattle, a town far from Chicago, where he, son Jonah (Ross Malinger), and his wife, Maggie (Carey Lowell) had made their lives.
Jonah knows his father isn’t doing well, however, and one Christmas eve, he calls a radio talk show, and gets his dad and his story on the air.
Across the country in Maryland, Annie Reed (Ryan) here’s the broadcast during a drive to a holiday dinner, and becomes enchanted. It causes her to reevaluate her own relationship with the sympathetic character of Walter (Bill Pullman) as she ponders where the magic is in her relationship. Hearing how Sam speaks of Maggie awakens her, and without realising it, she begins to fall in love with the idea of Sam.
Unfortunately, it seems most of the other women in America are in the same boat as father and son are inundated with mail requesting a chance to meet.
Sam doesn’t believe that love happens that way, and ignores all of Jonah’s requests as the young boy burrows through all the correspondence.
But love will find a way, even if he has to fly across the country on his own to meet Annie and prove to his dad that she is the right woman for them.
Just a gentle, enjoyable film, with some beautiful songs, this one remains a favourite perhaps because both Hanks and Ryan are so likeable. That and the dialogue is carved into my brain. This is one of the films that got a lot of air time in the video stores I worked in (you had to take rating into account, and my staff always wanted something with music in it).
Hanks is such a joy to watch, as he embodies the character of Sam easily. He wants to do right by Jonah, but realises that he may want a relationship again, and goes about it poorly. But that first glimpse of Annie at the airport sets the tone for the rest of the film… magic.
I also love that Hanks’ own wife, Rita Wilson shows up, playing friend of the family, Suzy, who, with husband Greg (Victor Garber) come to visit and share the connection of Annie’s letter and the classic film An Affair to Remember (which leads to a great moment about The Dirty Dozen).
I feel that this, like When Harry Met Sally, are both stronger films than Pretty Woman, and think that the book really messed up on that title as one of the must sees of the Romance and Melodrama genre.
Or maybe it’s just me.