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Guest Review: While You Were Sleeping – A Rom-Com Christmas Classic

Guest Review: While You Were Sleeping – A Rom-Com Christmas Classic


While You Were Sleeping

While you were Sleeping is one of my all-time favourite Christmas films. On the surface, it’s just your archetypal seasonal rom-com, but for me, there’s definitely something special about it. Released in the nineties, it’s in a similar vein to Nora Ephron classics like Sleepless in Seattle or You’ve Got Mail: warm and verging on the sentimental, but with plenty of understated humour and likable leads.

While You Were Sleeping

Sandra Bullock plays Lucy, a lonely young woman with no family of her own to spend Christmas with, who finds herself entangled with someone else’s when she saves the life of the eldest son, Peter (Peter Gallagher) who ends up in a coma. Due to a misunderstanding at the hospital, the Callaghans believe Lucy is Peter’s fiancée and the more deeply she becomes involved, the more she struggles to tell them the truth. Things don’t get any easier when she begins to fall for the younger brother, Jack (Bill Pullman).

One of the things I love about this film is that Bill Pullman gets to play the leading man – as opposed to the nice guy who’s due to get dumped by the end of the film (see Sleepless in Seattle). Here he’s still playing the nice guy, but the film plays around with the idea of Pullman not being a traditional hero. Peter is the tall, dark and handsome one, the older son, rich with a glamourous lifestyle and the one Lucy imagines herself in love with at first sight. I think Jack is supposed to be a bit of an everyman, but he’s much too lovely for that. He’s possibly my favourite leading man in rom-com history, and his chemistry with Sandra Bullock is off the charts.

While You Were Sleeping

She’s lovely too, unassuming and sweet, but there’s nothing sickly about either her or the romance that blossoms between the couple.  They’re both funny and dry, they don’t take themselves too seriously, but you can see that they’re serious about each other. What makes the situation really interesting, though, is that everything’s under the surface. Neither of them can admit they like each other because she’s supposed to be engaged to his brother – but we can see the attraction between them right from the off.

Aside from the romance, this film is about family, and I love the Callaghans. From Glynis Johns’ grandma (Mrs. Banks from Mary Poppins) to Peter’s godfather, Saul (Jack Warden) who keeps a particular eye on Lucy as another adoptee into the clan, they’re great fun and realistic as a depiction of a loving family. I love the confused conversations they have at dinner – I’ve had many a conversation like that in my own house. As a side note, it makes a nice change to see a Catholic family depicted as nice and normal.

While you were Sleeping might move at a slower pace than a lot of rom-coms today, it might not be particularly edgy or different, but it’s funny and warm and romantic. It might not have been as good without such a great cast, but the chemistry between the leads and the comradery among the family give it any extra sparkle that it might have needed.  The end always gets me a bit teary, and although I won’t spoil it for you, that final scene in the booth might be my favourite ever scene of its kind. As a feel-good Christmas romance, I would definitely recommend While you were Sleeping. As romantic comedies go, it’s one of the best.


Photos: Hollywood Pictures/Caravan Pictures/Buena Vista Pictures

OVERALL RATING

Four and a half corset rating

“You had me at hello.”

ROMANCE RATING

Five heart rating

“You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope.

I have loved none but you.”


ABOUT GUEST REVIEWER CATHERINE

catherine-photo-guest-reviewerHails from Merseyside, England. Loves period dramas, Harry Potter and Marmite on toast. Blogs about adaptations at http://basedonthebook.blogspot.co.uk/ and random rubbish at   http://whenitdoes.blogspot.co.uk/.

About The Author

11 Comments

  1. Brittaney Borman

    This is one of my favorites too for all the reasons you listed. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used lines from this film in everyday conversation. And when things get a little crazy at our family gatherings at least two of us will look at each other and say, “these mashed potatoes are so creamy!”

    Reply
    • Catherine

      We usually go with “Ceser Romero was tall”!, haha

      Reply
  2. Melanie

    Definitely one of the best romantic comedies of all time, and it will always be my favorite. Add the Christmas magic and it’s just about perfect!

    Reply
    • Catherine

      yeah, I love how Christmassy it is!

      Reply
  3. Dalia

    Oh, I adore this movie, it’s one of the few rom-coms that withstood the test of me growing up and becoming cynical. I still find it lovely!

    Reply
    • Catherine

      aw, I’m the same, I think it’s because she doesn’t fall for the love at first sight guy, but the one she gets to know best 🙂

      Reply
  4. Rissi

    ONE of my “forever” favorites. Though why I haven’t watched it lately is beyond me. 🙂

    Reply
    • Catherine

      Must be because it’s best watched at Christmas! 🙂

      Reply
  5. VintagePrincess

    Oh, I love this movie! I’ve watched every time it’s on TV. Last time I watched it, I actually got teary with the end scene and the voice over! :’) This movie is just absolutely sweet.

    P.S.: Glad to see the author of the article is also a Marmite lover! 😀

    Reply
  6. Carolena E

    Love This Movie! I own it and never get tired of watching it. From the subtle matchmaking by “Grandpa” (which was way more than man and woman, but Family and woman) that got me longing for a family, to falling in love with Sandra Bullock’s character.

    I would have had to push Joe Jr. down at least 2 steps for stretching out my shoes, but he had charm (aside from the crossdressing bit)

    I don’t know about you guys, but I always get the blonde’s Bill Pullman, Dave Couiler, and Jeff Daniels (especially in his younger years) a little mixed up, but I adored Bill Pullman. When he was lying at the dinner table about his preferences in women as an attempt to hide his growing fondness for Lucy…. Wonderful. His quiet smile… Man!

    I even loved the minor characters… Yes, Joe Jr. and her boss… The party scene was epic… but he also stepped into the roll of father figure at times. I fell in love with every member of the family with the exception of:

    Peter needed his a** whipped!
    How could he have even come from this family? They were all warm and responsible, loving, and just…. just them.
    This goes to show that you should never judge a book by it’s cover… or a suit for that matter. I was a cad and I didn’t see the attraction that Lucy could have had from the beginning. He was a selfish bastard. Where as when I first saw Jack, I was like there…. That’s what I call a man I could imagine being married to..

    All in all, this is a must watch… As a matter of fact, let me go through my 6 cases of movies and pop it into my 5 disc dvd changer now…

    Reply
  7. Rachel Weber Dean

    such a fun, sad and adorable film…….

    Reply

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