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While You Were Sleeping

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: While You Were Sleeping

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Bill Pullman
Director: Jon Turteltaub
Rated: PG
RunTime: 103 Minutes
Release Date: April 1995
Genres: Comedy, Romance

*Also starring: Peter Gallagher, Jack Warden, Peter Boyle, Glynis Johns, Micole Mercurio, Jason Bernard, Michael Rispoli, Ally Walker

Reviewer Roundup
1.  Steve Rhodes review follows movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review
2.  Andrew Hicks read the review movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review

Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING is a gem of a movie. It tells the tale of a lonely Chicago subway toll collector named Lucy (Sandra Bullock). She dreams of speaking to a dashingly handsome guy called Peter Callahan (Peter Gallagher) who passes by her tollbooth every day without speaking. She lives in a small apartment and her conversations consist of talking to her cat or to local nominal ladies' man and actual slimeball called Joe Jr. (Michael Rispoli).

One cold Christmas day Peter speaks to her, but her mouth turns to mush and she is unable to respond. An unhappy series of events turns her would be lover into a vegetable. While Lucy is checking on him in his comatose state in the hospital, his family (Peter Boyle, Glynis Johns, Micole Mercurio, et. al.) decides that Lucy is Peter's fiance. She is going to tell them the truth, but she falls in love with the whole family and can not bring herself to do it. Jack Warden plays Peter's godfather and the only one who knows Lucy's secret.

The problems really set in when Peter's brother Jack (Bill Pulman) arrives. He suspects Lucy may be a fraud since she is a brunette and not Peter's type. Peter's real girlfriend, Ashley Baily Bacon (Ally Walker) is blond and is a hell-on-wheels type who, as the movie evolves, keeps calling and leaving messages on Peter's answering machine.

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING is a romantic comedy and although there is tension and suspense about when Peter will wake up and what will he say, it is of minor importance. The real story is the developing love between Lucy and Jack. Pullman plays Jack as a shy and unassertive character who is not quite sure of what to make of Lucy. Bullock plays Lucy as a captivating woman with a winsome smile, but one that you believe might work all day at a tollbooth while dreaming of her Prince Charming. The chemistry between Lucy and Jack develops slowly and naturally as it would with reserved characters of that sort in real life. Rather than kiss they do some serious "leaning" as they call it in the movie.

The writing by Fred Lebow and Dan Sullivan is marvelous. On the one hand we have a romance that comes alive. On the other hand, we have a comedy full of so many great lines that the audience was in a constant state of mirth. My favorite and the audience's was when the family asked Lucy to prove that she really was Peter's fiance. You will have to see the movie to find out how she proved it. The writers also did something unusual. They put in many scenes that were not linked to any other part of the movie. They were there solely to provide some good laughs, and they all worked. My favorite was the paperboy on the ice.

The cast did real ensemble acting. It was as if the cast actually was a family. Even the character of Joe Jr., I thought was well done, and I generally detest characters like that in the movies. One character I wish I had seen more of was the original girlfriend. Her character was so outlandish relative to the sweetness of the others that I wanted to see what she was going to do next.

The coldness of Chicago in winter was a good metaphor for the loneliness of Lucy's life. The scene of the snow around the Callahan family home on the other hand looked so Norman Rockwell and soothing. Quite a contrast. Well done sets by Garreth Stover and beautiful cinematography by Phedon Papamichael. I found myself wondering however why they released what was clearly a Christmas movie in April.

Copyright 1995 Steve Rhodes

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