90s Movie Challenge Week 6: Sleepless In Seattle (1993)

We saved this week’s #90sMC for today – 14th February – rather than posting on our now traditional Friday, as Matt Adcock continues our LurveFest ’21 by delving into the mysterious world of long-distance relationships; Specifically one between the 90s’ most beloved on-screen romantic pairings.

From 1993, it’s Sleepless In Seattle.

“What if someone you never met, someone you never saw, someone you never knew was the only someone for you?”

Deep down I think everyone wants to believe in love. That feeling when your heart is on fire, your brain is in ecstasy and you are entirely at the mercy of your body’s chemical endorphins. It feels like magic, its poetry, it’s an energy, it’s a million tiny little things that, when you added them all up make something incredible…

Gosh, anyway, one of the reasons I love films is that the best ones tap into our longings, our fantasies and our wishes – and rarely a film comes along that delivers something beyond just a viewing experience. Now I am mostly an action/sci-fi/horror film fan but in 1993 Sleepless in Seattle arrived and spoke directly to my soul. It might have helped that I was in love, I’d found that possible ‘soulmate’ and was hoping to marry her but Sleepless director Nora Ephron seemed to have been listening in to the inner monologue of ‘can this really be the one?’ and ‘why can’t I stop thinking about this woman?’… Getting to watch her loose adaptation of An Affair To Remember stirred up all sorts of thoughts and feelings – it resonated and continues to be a slightly guilty pleasure of mine (plus it’s one of my wife’s all-time favourite films)…

Sleepless in Seattle was a pretty big hit at the box office making $227.8 million against a $21 million budget but it has lived on an was a huge draw on video too. At this time of year when romance is often reduced to a commercial flower and chocolate selling commodity – films like Sleepless show that a truly beautiful romance might be out there for everyone.

The plot of Sleepless sees two people from opposite sides of the US find each other. Is it madness for Annie (Meg Ryan) to be ‘the one’ for Sam (Tom Hanks) who has not fully come to terms with his wife Maggie’s death? Cue Sam’s eight-year-old Jonah who via calling a national radio talk show, set the wheels in motion of a truly heart-warming tale of love above all.

Even the most cynical out there should take a moment to ponder and imagine being the cause of lines when Sam tries to explain his heart:
“we were supposed to be together, and I knew it. I knew it the first time I touched her. It was like coming home, only to no home I’d ever known. I was just taking her hand to help her out of a car and I knew it. It was like magic.”

The fact that Annie has a fiancé who she’s ‘settling for’ may make you think that you should keep shopping around for love as the partner of your dreams who you have a deeper connection with might still be out there. But this is a film about taking a chance on someone because you don’t want to end up wondering what might have happened knowing you could’ve done something to change your fate.

This bit of dialogue sums up the film, Annie: “Now that was when people knew how to be in love. They knew it! Time, distance; nothing could separate them because they knew. It was right. It was real. It was…”

Becky (Rosie O’Donnell): “…a movie. That’s your problem. You don’t want to be in love, you want to be in love in a movie.”

What makes Sleepless in Seattle shine so bright though is the pure chemistry between Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks – and that’s no mean feat considering they spend most of the film apart.

Esteemed US critic Roger Ebert described Sleepless “as ephemeral as a talk show, as contrived as the late show, and yet so warm and gentle I smiled the whole way through.” I have to concur – for sheer ‘smiles per second’ this movie keeps delivering at an irresistible pace.

What Sleepless has in abundance – more than so many of its romantic comedy brethren – is charm. The characters feel real even when the situations are massively contrived. It tells a simple story of loss and love and handles difficult situations with a winning warmth. This isn’t just a great date film (although I’m not an expert on those apparently seeing as first date film I took my wife to was the almost 3 hour cut of Dances With Wolves), but Sleepless is a spirit energiser for everyone who is feeling low, a booster for those in love and a happy fantasy for all. Do yourself a favour and give this a(nother) watch!!

Come back on Friday for another #90sMC. This time Paul Childs leaps forward just one year to 1994 to examine a film which changed the British cinematic landscape forever, which remained the most successful Brit-Flick for fifteen years, and which provided us with yet another long-term-top-spot-holding power ballad.

Is it raining? We hadn’t noticed… because we were watching Four Weddings & A Funeral!


One thought on “90s Movie Challenge Week 6: Sleepless In Seattle (1993)

  • 19th November 2023 at 22:36


    I don’t know if someone will see this comment but would like to say I agree! I forgotten some of the contrived situation (and how Meg Ryan is kind of a stalker), but it is so charming. There is something in it, it’s like switching a warm yellow light in a dark place, it makes you feel better about yourself and life for a second.


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