'While You Were Sleeping': THR's 1995 Review

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Sandra Bullock in 1995's 'When You Were Sleeping.'
Wonderfully unmodern and unabashedly melodramatic yarn.

On April 21, 1995, Buena Vista unveiled the Sandra Bullock rom-com While You Were Sleeping in theaters, where it would go on to gross $182 million globally. The Hollywood Reporter's original review is below: 

A lonely token-taker on the Chicago El system falls in love with a handsome lawyer. That's the contemporary story line for this Cinderella/Prince Charming-like romantic comedy. Mainstream, heartland audiences will love this old-fashioned love story, and while sophisticated, big-city slickers will yowl about its traditional thematics, Buena Vista will win a long engagement at the box office.

Once again in public transportation, Sandra Bullock stars as Lucy, a romantic and single Chicago woman who tolls as a booth attendant for the Chicago Transit Authority. Lucy's life is her tiny apartment, cat and remote control. She pines to travel, but most of all, just wants a guy to share her romantic nature. A dashing commuter, Peter (Peter Gallagher), has caught her eye and she secretly dreams he will be the one.

But, in this wonderfully unmodern and unabashedly melodramatic yarn, it is she who rescues him: When he is knocked unconscious by muggers and topples onto the train tracks, she saves him. For her heroism, his grateful family embraces her. To the lonely Lucy, it's a wonderful and head-spinning turn of events and, in her giddiness, she does not dispute their misconception that she is Peter's fiancee. Essentially, Cinderella, er, Lucy, gets to wear the engagement ring until Peter comes out of his coma.

While screenwriters Daniel G. Sullivan and Fredric Lebow have fashioned a warmhearted, Capra-esque comedy, complete with Peter's idiosyncratic family, While You Were Sleeping is, at core, a solid character-driven story where Lucy comes to realize that her dewey Prince Charming-to-the-rescue notion of love is lacking. It's a realization she comes to as she gets to know Peter's younger, rough-around-the-edges brother (Bill Pullman). This romancer trudges through some slushy pathways, but director Jon Turteltaub never allows it to wallow.

Bullock is perfectly cast as Lucy. While she shows Lucy's vulnerability, she also demonstrates her survivalist skills. It's a winningly sympathetic and resilient portrait. Bullock gives Lucy just the right amount of edge. Pullman's performance as Peter's down-to-earth younger brother is also a deft mix of moxie and frustration.

The supporting castmembers, as well as the technical team, bring added boost: Peter Boyle as the paterfamilias, Jack Warden as the wizened neighbor and Glynis Johns as the addled mother-in-law are all treats. — Duane Byrge, originally published April 13, 1995.