Today we have a film that doesn’t take many risks, and isn’t really bringing anything new to the genre, but it has earned its place in the pantheon of romantic comedies.
While You Were Sleeping (1995)
The first time I watched this film was for a contemporary cinema class. I knew of the movie’s existence, but never paid much attention to it. I am by no means a fan of romantic comedies. There are certain exceptions to that statement, but overall this type of movie isn’t anything I would normally be drawn to. Needless to say, I wasn’t too excited about watching this film.
Then I watched it.
The film was too much fun for me to keep my distance. The bickering family that won’t stop talking, Sandra Bullock’s character trying to tiptoe her way out of messes she’s made, Joe Jr. trying on her shoes in the closet, all of it will put a smile on your face. The film isn’t all smiles, however. Sandra Bullock gives the ultimate ‘down in the dumps’ portrayal here, which will have you rooting for her the entire way, even when her character lets a shred of dishonesty show through, and make an irrational and somewhat greedy decision. Her character seems to have been left alone in this big city and never found her place in it. You can see that there is more to her quirky charm, and lighthearted quips, that underneath is an enormous sense of isolation that she is fighting to erase. Sure some of the plot points seem a bit fantastic, and some characters are predominantly stereotypical, but the film never goes over the top enough to remove you from it. This is a rare quality in romantic comedies, and one I find to be most valuable.
The film has a strong message for a romantic comedy, and one more refreshing than simply “finding true love.” Above everything else, this is a film about family. It’s about how we treat the family we have, and how we shouldn’t forget that no matter how many disagreements we have, or how angry we get, or how we struggle to find ways to relate to each other, we still have a family. And there are people around us who would give anything to have just that.