Sleepless in Seattle – review | Peter Bradshaw

A Valentine's Day re-release for Nora Ephron's smart 90s romcom with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan at their very perkiest

The 1993 smash Sleepless In Seattle is this week's Valentine's Day re-release on the big screen, and it's a movie to which director and co-writer Nora Ephron brought her terrific flair, wit and nous, although she propagates the terrifying fallacy that a widower makes a wonderful romantic catch. The movie references the 50s weepie classic An Affair to Remember, in which wheelchair-user Deborah Kerr famously can't keep her romantic appointment atop the Empire State Building with Cary Grant. Ephron cleverly reverses this situation and gives the man the heart-wrenching disability – bereavement.

Tom Hanks is Sam, the architect who has moved to Seattle after the death of his wife; his cute eight-year-old son Jonah calls a radio talk show about his depressed and insomniac dad and chivvies him into talking about his feelings live on air: the story of "Sleepless in Seattle" makes every single woman in America want to hug him, including feisty Baltimore journalist Annie, who falls in love with Sam right then and there, and does some pre-Google sleuthing to track him down.

Annie is played by 90s romcom empress Meg Ryan, who had just captured moviegoers' hearts in When Harry Met Sally, and plays a slightly less capricious, less public-fake-orgasmic role here: a little pert, a little picky, and very blonde, with the quivering, gulpy giggle in her voice. Sam and Annie each have cuddly/unthreatening BFs in the form of Rob Reiner and Rosie O'Donnell. There's lots of smart humour, including the deathless "Tiramisu" gag and Sam bursting satirically into tears as he recounts the guy-movie plot of The Dirty Dozen.


Peter Bradshaw

The GuardianTramp

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