Sleepless in Seattle (1993) Directed by Nora Ephron. With Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, Bill Pullman, Rita Wilson, Frances Conroy and David Hyde Pierce.
Nora Ephron’s tale of love and destiny aims to capture the same sense of old-school Hollywood magic inherent in the likes of its most fondly remembered romantic offerings, such as Blake Edwards’ seminal Breakfast at Tiffany’s or more directly, the Cary Grant, Deborah Kerr classic, An Affair to Remember.
So, how does it compare? Well, it’s probably unsurprising to say it doesn’t. It’s not that it’s bad film, far from it. Tom Hanks cuts a likeable screen presence, and there’s an easy flow, with a classy soundtrack of songs by the likes of Harry Connick Jr and Nat King Cole. Somehow, though, and despite the dressing, it fails to reach the dizzy heights it strives for.
The best rom-com drama seems to fizz with an extra sensory chemistry between the lead actors. They utter things we all wish we could think of in those awkward moments, and played right, these films can deftly seep into our culture. Part of what Sleepless in Seattle is up against, is that by the very nature of its plot, the leads are kept apart.
Nora Ephron’s attempts to convince us that these two complete strangers are meant for each other is sometimes faintly touching, but at turns, it’s painfully daft. Both Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan are given cartoon partners for us to cruelly ‘boo-hiss’. Hanks is set-up with Victoria, a “laughing hyena” type, while Ryan is lumbered with Bill Pullman, who despite his love for her , has a horrible range of allergies, which obviously makes him a lesser suitor than Hanks. Hmm.
By the time the vomit-inducing Celine Dion and Clive Griffin rendition of When I Fall in Love plays over the final credits, you’d be forgiven for feeling bludgeoned. Sleepless in Seattle has its moments, but ultimately, it fails to harness the power of the classics it so desperately wants to emulate. 2.5/5