While You Were Sleeping

by Alan Rapp on February 8, 2011

in Home Video, Theme Week

  • Title: While You Were Sleeping
  • IMDB: link

while-you-were-sleeping-posterLucy Eleanor Moderatz (Sandra Bullock) lives alone with her cat, carries an empty passport around in her coat pocket, and works long hours as in a subway booth taking tokens from strangers.  One bright spot in her dreary existence is when Peter Callaghan (Peter Gallagher) walks by every morning even though they’ve never met. 

On Christmas morning he’s mugged and falls onto the tracks.  Lucy jumps on the tracks and saves his life and through a miscommunication at the hospital is believed to be Peter’s fiancé.  When Peter’s large family arrives to find him in a coma they thank Lucy for saving his life and immediately embrace her into the family.  The whole thing happens so fast Lucy doesn’t get a chance to tell them the truth and, after a few days with the family, doesn’t want to.

Aside from funny misunderstandings and odd coincidences the film is basically about relationships.  Lucy’s only confidant is her boss (Jerry Bernard) who Lucy tells the story to and is both amused and annoyed at her situation. 

Lucy the loner without any family (the story begins with a story about her father who died the pevious year) can’t bring herself to tell the truth and takes the opportunity to be a part of a family.  Her relationship with her comatose faux fiancé is also complicated by his brother Jack (Bill Pullman) who is obviously the brother Lucy is meant for, and Peter’s real life fiancé Ashley Bartlet Bacon (Ally Walker) who keeps calling Peter’s apartment from overseas wondering where he is, and matters really get complicated when a confused Peter eventually wakes up.

The Callaghan family is full of great characters.  Ox Callaghan (Peter Boyle) is the patriarch of the family who runs a company buying furniture from dead people.  Saul (Jack Warden) Peter’s Godfather and family friend who alone discovers Lucy’s secret but decides not to expose her.  Elsie (Glynis Johns) who has a history of heart problems and delivers a great line after great line at Catholic Mass.  Other strong performances include Micole Mercurio and Monica Keena who round out the Callaghan clan and Michael Rispoli as Joey Fusco Jr., the son of Lucy’s landlord, who believes he invented aluminum foil.

It’s a fun movie and the chemistry between Pullman and Bullock works well on screen and although the story’s contrivances keep them apart you know Lucy will end up better for the experience in the end.  There are some great scenes about relationships between men and women including a scene between Pullman, Bullock and Rispoli about leaning and the scene where Pullman admits his feelings, not to her, but to his still comatose brother.

This movie just works for me on all levels.  Is it a little too contrived?  Yeah, but it’s got a strong heart that beats throughout and you actually care what happens to the characters and want them to have a happy ending (rather than sitting in a darkened theater bored out of your mind at the latest Kate Hudson piece-o-crap and trying to make the screen burst into flames with your mind).  If you haven’t seen this go out and get it, I just watched it again late the other night While You Were Sleeping.

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