"Sleepless in Seattle" and Culture

Essay by rjmcma07University, Bachelor'sA-, February 2006

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There are those who will claim that "Sleepless in Seattle" is too corny, with sugar-coated cuteness filling in for the lack of a strong plot. And, while they have a point, there's something that the cynics are missing -- it's meant to be this way. By its own admission, this film is intended as a throwback to the screen romances of the past (An Affair to Remember in particular, which is cited numerous times, and borrowed from explicitly and implicitly). It offers a mere glimpse of the "American dream" and hopes of the past, anyone expecting a tale of stark modern life from Sleepless in Seattle has walked into the wrong room and has picked the wrong movie. This is a dreamy, romantic fantasy whose mood falls somewhere between magic and reality, definitely not how America really is, or ever will be. There are however a few typical American items and traditions that are portrayed and used in the film in an accurate way.

8-year old Jonah Baldwin misses his mother, who died from cancer eighteen months ago. More than that, however, he recognizes that his father, Sam, is desperately lonely. So, on Christmas Eve, Jonah calls a radio talk-show psychologist and asks for help. Forced onto the phone by his son and identified as "Sleepless in Seattle", Sam reluctantly, at first, opens up and talks about his love for his dead wife and the things that made her special. Across the country in Baltimore, Annie Reed is listening to the syndicated program, and Sam's testimonial of love brings tears to her eyes. Even though she is engaged to Walter, Annie begins to wonder what it would be like to meet Sam. She even becomes one of thousands of women to write a letter to him. But, when circumstances make...