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SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE Review – Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan

SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE (1993)

Director: Nora Ephron

Screenplay: Nora Ephron, David S. Ward, Jeff Arch, and Delia Ephron (uncredited); from an original story by Jeff Arch

Cast: Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, Bill Pullman, Ross Malinger, Rosie O'Donnell, Gaby Hoffman, Victor Garber, Rita Wilson, David Hyde Pierce, Rob Reiner

Meg Ryan, Ross Malinger, Tom Hanks in Sleepless in Seattle
Meg Ryan, Ross Malinger, Tom Hanks, Sleepless in Seattle

Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan in Sleepless in SeattleIn Krzysztof Kieslowski's Red, the last installment of his "Three Colors" trilogy, the word "magic" is never bandied about. No need to. Magic is just about everywhere in that lyrical tale about love and fate.

In Nora Ephron's Sleepless in Seattle, which received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay, the word "magic" seems to crop up every other minute. Ephron and fellow screenwriters Jeff Arch, David S. Ward, and (an uncredited) Delia Ephron were apparently trying to create screen magic through self-hypnosis. If you say it often enough...

Following in the footsteps of Claude Lelouch's 1974 hit And Now My Love, with added touches taken from Leo McCarey's 1957 romance classic An Affair to Remember (itself a remake of McCarey's own 1939 Love Affair), co-scenarist-director Nora Ephron's box office smash Sleepless in Seattle is a tale of romantic yearning in which real feelings and emotions are replaced by mannered cutesiness and near-lethal doses of saccharine.

Nora Ephron has written numerous hard-hitting essays; one good screenplay about a strong woman, Silkwood; and a damning indictment of former husband Carl Bernstein, Heartburn, a novel that in 1986 was turned into a movie starring Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep. Apparently, however, hidden under Ephron's tough-as-nails surface lies a sentimentalist screaming to get out. (In addition to Sleepless in Seattle, there have also been When Harry Met Sally... and You've Got Mail; not coincidentally, all three starring Meg Ryan.)

Sleepless in Seattle begins as recently widowed architect Sam Baldwin (Tom Hanks) moves with his 8-year-old son Jonah (Ross Malinger) from Chicago to Seattle so as to forget his late wife. Worried about his father, Jonah contacts a call-in radio program. Egged on by Jonah, Sam (code name: Sleepless in Seattle) ends up discussing his feelings of loss and loneliness on national radio.

At the other end of the United States, Baltimore denizen Annie Reed (Meg Ryan) is on her way to meet her fiancé, Walter (Bill Pullman), when she accidentally tunes into that station. Annie – along with thousands of other women across the U.S. – fall in love with Sam's voice and his longing for "magic." A few days later, her best friend, Becky (Rosie O'Donnell), mails a letter Annie had written to Sam. When Jonah reads Annie's letter, he decides that Annie will be his next mom.

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