Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Movies--1--While You Were Sleeping

I have decided that this month I will make comments on several favorite movies starting with "While you were sleeping" starring Sandra Bullock and Bill Pulman.

My brother recommended this movie and it has become something of a favorite. Like most modern Hollywood movies it suffers from bad language, but it is a delightful movie otherwise. The basic story is that a young woman has imagined herself in love with a handsome young man who rides the subway every morning. Since she is the ticket seller, she sees him and fantacizes a relationship with him, although, they have not, in fact even exchanged a greeting. On Christmas day, however, the young man is attacked by muggers and thrown onto the track. The fall leaves him unconscious in the middle of the track. Sandra Bullock, the tickettaker, sees his plight and is able to move him off the track shortly before the train passes, thus, saving his life. Later in the hospital, she sees him lying in his bed and speaks her fantasy outloud. A passing nurse, assuming that the expression is factual, assumes that she is engaged to the man and announces it to the hospital staff, who, in turn tell it to the man's family when they arrive. The family include Glynis Johns and Jack Warden--who have always been fun in the movies I have seen them in.

The family takes Sandra Bullock in (assuming that she will be part of the family as soon as the son comes out of the comma that his experience has left him in). They make an extra effort, because apparently, the relationship with the son before his mugging had been increasingly distant. He had left the family business to become a lawyer, and had been successful at it and rather pusued his own life making contact with the family only very occasisionally. Sandra Bullock is strongly drawn to the family and begins visiting them frequently. She is especially strongly drawn to the oldest son, who, although initially very skeptical of the fact that Bullock is actually engaged to his brother, becomes a believer, and increasingly ardent admirer of her. The end, of course, is predictable, but the fun is in getting there.

One thing I particularly liked about this movie is that the lawyer did not come out on top. Movies, it seems to me have a special affinity for lawyers, mostly, I believe, because the writers have not the imagination, or experience, to believe that anyone else (with the possible exception of doctors) can start from scratch and be successful. In the movies, if you need someone to start from rather ordinary or especially if they must start from straightened circumstances, and yet make good in a rather brief period of time (brief enough to still be young enough to be marriageable material), the movies almost always chose to make the hero or heroine a lawyer. In this case, the hero is working in a somewhat-but-not-spectacularly-successful middle class business, and, inspired by the heroine (who is a lower middle class ticket taker) plans to launch out on his own in what we can assume will be a most risky venture. The business he is leaving is itself intriguing because it can best be described as filling a niche in a very competitive market--furniture (the family buys furniture from estates--mostly from families who do not want to keep the furniture of recently deceased relatives). At the end of the movie, we rejoice that after so many mix-ups and humorous, but embarrasing experiences, the two lovers have found themselves, but, I for one, rejoice in the fact that they will most likely have a period, and likely an extended period of financial struggle. The movie makes it clear that the financial success of the lawyer brother has not only led him away from his family, but led him into a lifestyle very foreign from his religious roots. He tells us when he comes out of his coma, that the near death experience have made him a new man, but somehow, I suspect, that when he finds himself again surrounded with all the trappings of wealth--an mostly unproductive wealth--that he will find himself rather soon back where he was. Although, the corruption due to unproductive wealth is certainly common in society, it is not often depicted in movies.

For its humor and the subtle, and sometimes not so subtle, lessons about life and living, I give it an alpha.

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