Most romantic films #10: Sleepless in Seattle (1993)

This is a great comedy that is also a great love story. The long distance relationship between Annie (Meg Ryan) and Sam (Tom Hanks) is beautifully balanced by the coastal father-son relationship between Sam and Jonah, and the girlfriends of Annie and Becky (Rosie O’Donnell).

Written by Nora Ephron, this is the first of her great romantic comedies, and it really shoved Ryan and Hanks into star status, if they weren’t already there.

Both Sam and Annie have friends, family, good jobs, lovely places to live — neither is a loner or sad person. Annie is even enaged, to Walter, a man that everyone thinks is perfect for her.

And yet…

On Christmas Eve, she hears Sam on a call-in radio show talking about the loss of his wife. Something in her responds, and she writes him a letter. Jonah, Sam’s son, chooses Annie’s letter as the perfect response, but Sam (in the very funniest scene) points out the distance between Baltimore (Annie’s home) and Seattle, where Sam lives.

Borrowing from An Affair to Remember, and appointment is made to meet at the top of the Empire State Building… and it is the three ofthem — Jonah, Sam and Annie — who meet. A happy future seems, well, blindingly likely.

The soundtrack is great, the writing sparkles with wit and intelligence, the supporting characters are quick and funny, and the whole look of the piece is great. The Empire State Building was right around the corner form where I worked in NYC, so seeing Ryan run by my old ATM… a thrill.


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