Written by Daniel G. Sullivan and Frederic LeBow
Directed by Jon Turteltaub
I had forgotten just how truly enjoyable and good While You Were Sleeping is until I had the opportunity to rewatch it. Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman are wonderful together, exuding chemistry and making their characters believable as they work their way to each other despite the obstacles in their path.
Bullock portrays Lucy, a lonely token collector in a token booth on Chicago’s El line. Every day she sees the same stranger pass by her (Pete portrayed by Peter Gallagher) and thinks that if he will just talk to her and get to know her, that her life will somehow change and be magical.
One day, Pete is mugged and pushed onto the train tracks. Lucy saves his life. Once at the hospital, the doctors are refusing to let her stay with him since she is not family. One of the nurses lies and says that she’s his fiancee so they will let her stay. This is where the fun and confusion begin. Lucy feelings are mixed after Pete lapses into a coma and Lucy inadvertently begins deceiving his family. She is torn between her guilt, and her longing for the warmth, love and acceptance that this family exudes.
Bullock’s performance is so strong and believable; she makes Lucy real to us and we can sympathize with her loneliness. She is an Eleanor Rigby character longing for a life different than her own. To that end, she keeps a valid passport on hand, yearning to get that first stamp in it, but unable to pry herself away from her mundane life and push herself into doing what she longs for.
As she finds the love and acceptance in Pete’s family, her guilt mounts, but so does her longing to be a part of their family. It’s when she meets his brother Jack that the sparks fly. Jack immediately senses that she is not really his brother’s type, but more of his type. Although he is immediately suspicious of her, the two of them bond and dance around each other, denying their true feelings since Lucy is supposedly his brother’s fiancee.
Pete eventually wakes up, and the movie gets even funnier here as Lucy manages to keep up the deception.
Bullock and Pullman make this whole movie. Their performances are outstanding. I have trouble with Peter Gallagher being someone that would be the object of somebody’s fantasies, since I don’t find him particularly handsome, but that’s just me. He’s in a coma for the majority of this movie, but the little bit of time we see of him near the end, he does a wonderful job as a man reborn with a new appreciation for life.
The rest of the supporting cast, including Jack Warden as Saul, a family friend who catches onto Lucy fairly early, Michael Rispoli as Lucy’s skeevy landlord, Joe Jr., Peter Boyle as Pete and Jack’s father, and Jason Bernard as Lucy’s boss and friend are all excellent and back up what is going on with 100% believability.
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