Is Sleepless in Seattle a Movie About Three Stalkers?

I’ve been pushing the limits when it comes to sleep lately due to the Kickstarter campaign (check out the sketches for the board art here–there’s a poll!). So I thought it might be time to mention a blog entry I’ve thought about for a while: Is Sleepless in Seattle, known as one of the most romantic movies ever, actually a creepy movie about three stalkers?

In the movie, Meg Ryan becomes obsessed with a man she knows nothing about after hearing him pour his heart out on late-night radio. She starts writing him letters, and then she actually flies all the way to Seattle to search out Hanks, who doesn’t know she exists.

Tom Hanks, on the other hand, sees a pretty woman (Meg Ryan) he knows nothing about and becomes infatuated with her, to the point of following her in his car.

I’m pretty sure that Hanks and Ryan have very little contact throughout the movie. I think the kid is the conduit for most of their communication, i if you can call it that. So we’re talking about two complete strangers stalking each other, not realizing that they’re stalking each other.

The movie culminates with the kid completing the creepiest stalk of all, flying all the way to New York and cornering Ryan at the top of the tallest building in New York.

How is this movie a romance?!?

And don’t go all, “Oh, but it’s so sweet…they’re meant for each other….” Not going to cut it. Tell me why it’s romantic. And yes, I know how romantic it feels at the end, particularly that last scene. I also know that sense of romanticism when I see a girl from across the street and think she has a kind, pretty face and a tight, sexy body. But I don’t follow that girl to her house. I don’t write her letters–nay, I don’t write letters to her kid–and while thinking I love her even though I know nothing about her. I’d get arrested if I did those things.

I will say: Meg Ryan was stunning back then. I don’t blame Tom Hanks for thinking it was love at first sight.

I think it’s fascinating that a film that is considered one of the most romantic movies of all time is a stalker movie. What does that say about our society?

I’m not trying to ruin your favorite movie, by the way. I’m just trying to make sure that people don’t confuse stalking with romance. Because some people do.

6 thoughts on “Is Sleepless in Seattle a Movie About Three Stalkers?”

  1. Watch “An Affair to Remember” instead, which is heavily referenced throughout all of “Sleepless in Seattle.” All of the romance, none of the stalking. 🙂

    I have it on DVD and end up watching it every month or so it seems. There are so many great parts, but one of my favorites is this quick clip as Deborah Kerr and Cary Grant leave each other with the promise that they’ll meet up for good in 6 months at the top of the Empire State Building. They get off the boat and she is greeted by her fiance. As Cary Grant walks past her, he wants to do something since it’s the last time he’ll see her for months, but obviously they need to be discreet. He kisses his fingertips and touches the back of her glove with them, then walks away:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VIseCAYi2lU

    What this clip doesn’t show you is that she then immediately feigns some time of surpise or shock to her fiance so that she can touch the back of her glove to her mouth, like a kiss-by-proxy.

    I love it.

    But I don’t love it quite this much, just so we’re clear:

    Reply
    • Katie–I watched that clip a few times (it’s very short), and although it happens in your description and not on the clip, I love the idea that Kerr then touches the back of her glove to her mouth. It would probably be more sweet if she didn’t have a fiance, but I’m sure the movie explains that. 🙂

      Reply
  2. My husband loves Sleepless in Seattle, it’s one of his favorite romantic movies. I just don’t get it. I think it plays on the idea that love is a conceit, an act of the imagination, but what makes it miraculous is the coincidence involved–that two people who have never met are in love with the conceit or idea of each other, needing a child to have the foresight to actually bring these literally blinded by love people to each other. That’s the romance or total impossibility or perfection aspect of it. My husband also loved Serendipity, points to John Cusack but I totally gagged at both films. I did enjoy “You’ve Got Mail” however, probably because I identified with the whole ‘falling in love over e-mail’ schtick, but also because it involved books and independent book store owners vs. behemoth B & N in disguise.

    My idea of a better romantic movie involves more conflict I guess, and is a whole lot more realistic. If you love ridiculously long European movies, I recommend The Unbearable Lightness of Being, which talks about a philandering male unable to settle down but ultimately reconciling with his wife, set against the Prague Fever, communism, etc. Plus I totally loved Milan Kundera’s book, so I’m biased.

    Yeah, so in short, I agree, Sleepless Stalkers in Seattle (and NY)…stalking = obsession = infatuation, it’s not quite the same thing as real love (that’s the hard part that movies don’t play up).

    Reply
  3. I saw this movie for the first time the other day and I thought the same thing. It is truly creepy. Especially Meg Ryan’s character. She has a really nice fiance and still sends love letters and flies to see a man she doesn’t know in an area she doesn’t live in. The kid is a kid and as weird as his actions were I feel like he was young enough to not understand how wrong stalking is. And as far as Tom Hanks goes the fact that he followed Meg Ryan in his car was also rather creepy. I have a little sympathy for his character because he seemed to really not want or ask for all the attention he got. And he really doesn’t seem to try and seek out Meg Ryan’s character with the exception of when he followed her in the car. At any rate I feel like this movie is giving the wrong message about love. Love is something that grows over time and you genuinely have to get to know someone before you can say that you’re in love. This move trivializes the whole concept of love. Which I guess is why I’m not a big romantic comedy fan. Anyway, this was a great blog.

    Reply
    • Crystal–I completely agree with your assessment of the movie. Although I love rom coms, I think way too many of them trivialize the concept of true love. True love doesn’t happen in a split second or in a montage. Lust, sure. Puppy love or infatuation, definitely. But real love? I agree that it takes time.

      Reply

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