By Brendan Labra
Sleepless in Seattle (1993) was shown this weekend as a special Valentine’s Day film. While the film has been long regarded as a classic, I viewed it this week with fresh eyes to see whether or not it still holds up today.
The movie centers around two main characters, Sam (Tom Hanks) and Annie (Meg Ryan). We begin the film in a rather somber way – Sam and his son Jonah (Ross Malinger) are at his wife’s funeral, who we learn has passed away from a sickness.
Soon thereafter, we jump 18 months ahead. Sam and Jonah have moved to Seattle from Chicago as a way to move on from Sam’s wife’s death. We are also introduced to Annie and Walter (Bill Pullman), a newly engaged couple. Annie’s fiancé seems like the stereotypical guy that you would want to bring home to your family, but he may be missing some of the spark that Annie is looking for. After leaving her house for a family dinner, Annie hears a story over the radio that catches her ear.
Jonah has called into a therapy radio show to try and have the host help his struggling father. Sam eventually takes the phone from Jonah and reluctantly converses with the therapist. While telling stories of his past wife, Annie begins to become emotional over the details and starts to become curious as to who this mystery man could be.
This man’s voice became engrained in Annie’s mind. She could not shake the idea of who could possibly be behind the phone. She begins to wonder if she sees Walter in the same light that Sam saw his wife. This eventually drives her to inquire more about who this man could be. From there the plot continues to build and by the movie’s end, the audience really roots for these two to eventually find each other.
As someone who has never seen this film, I found it quite enjoyable. While some may deem it as a “chick-flick”, this movie works on multiple different levels that certainly raise its status.
First, the cinematography and filmmaking are very good. The use of color and weather was very prominent throughout the film. Tom Hank’s character is usually dressed in mute colors and is surrounded by grey and foggy weather when he is still in mourning of his wife. As things begin to look up for Sam, elements around him also literally brighten up.
The acting is also another strongpoint of the film. Ryan and Hanks both do very well in their respective roles. The real show-stealer however has to be Jonah. His witty comments and playful demeanor throughout the movie are very welcome. I do wish more side characters such as Jay (Rob Reiner) would be incorporated more throughout the film. Rosie O’Donnell, playing Annie’s friend Becky, also puts in a good performance and some comedic relief.
Sleepless in Seattle is a rather enjoyable film, and definitely a good watch for this Valentine’s Day whether you have someone special to view it with or not. Who knows, this movie may even introduce you to that special someone.
Sleepless in Seattle gets 3.75/5 stars.