This past week while trying to decide on a movie to watch with my boyfriend, we were looking at my family’s movie collection and he blurts out: “While You Were Sleeping? What’s that?” It then became obvious to me that the next step in his movication, a term I am fond of from the movie, Pitch Perfect, that we continue to use to describe my educating him of the “classics” of cinematography that he has missed while actually doing productive things during his child and teenage-hood, was to watch While You Were Sleeping. This movie has always been a favorite of mine. The cast stars Sandra Bullock, Bill Pullman, Peter Gallagher and Peter Boyle, among many other fine actors.
The premise of the movie is that Lucy (Bullock), whose mother passed away when she was young and father passed away a year before, is now all alone. While working in a ticket booth at the train station, Lucy develops a huge crush on a handsome passenger named Peter (Gallagher) that gives her his train token each morning. One day he is mugged and pushed onto the tracks, rendering him unconscious and leading Lucy to perform an act of heroism by jumping on the tracks and rolling him out of the path of an incoming train. When she reaches the hospital, she attempts to check on him, but learns that only family can see him. Lucy wishfully mutters to herself that she intends to marry him someday. A nurse overhears Lucy, leading all of the hospital staff, along with Lucy’s dream man’s estranged family to believe that she is his fiancée. This begins a sweet holiday journey in which the unconscious man’s family takes her in as one of their own. While getting to know each other, Lucy becomes the common thread the family needs to feel close to their beloved son again. While spending so much time with Peter’s family as his “fiancée”, she falls in love with all of them, including their son, before she has a chance to tell them the truth about her relationship with their son in a coma. However, the son she falls in love with is not the handsome stranger from the train, but his charming brother, Jack (Pullman).
What I love so much about this story is not the comical plotline or the cute quirks (such as Lucy’s landlord’s son who has a large crush on her and enjoys trying on her shoes, or her boss who stands by giving advice as the tale goes on), but the budding romance that is shown between Jack and Lucy. While the media shows us stories of adultery and complete disregard for morals, this movie chose to show not only a pure romance between the two, but the sense of loyalty Jack felt for his brother and Lucy felt not only for her “fiancée”, but for his entire family as well, as she could not bear to tell them the truth.
While Peter was still in a coma, Lucy spent many evenings with the family as first Christmas came and then the New Year. Jack drove her home from family events, attended a work party with her, walking her home afterwards, and checking in on her just because. So many opportunities presented themselves for them to express their fondness for each other in even a hug, or a kiss, and yet they stayed true to Peter and to the family. The most beautiful thing to me about this movie is that it shows romance in its truest form. Their love for each other (realized at the end of the movie, of course!) grew out of conversations and laughs, glances and smiles, humorous situations and unexpected instances.
While Peter was waiting at the altar for Lucy, assuming he had amnesia and forgot their entire relationship, he asked when it was that she fell in love with Jack. Lucy fondly replied “It was while you were sleeping.” In reply to all of the false realities the world offers, I counter that while the world was sleeping it missed out on true romance, true intimacy, and (dare I say it at risk of sounding cliché?) true love. I am a sucker for romantic comedies, even if some pieces of the movie are not up to my (or the Church’s) moral standards, but nothing brings on happy naïve Catholic girl tears faster than a romance that leaves you so satisfied without even so much as a touch to counter our reveal-all culture.