What kind of love story is it when the couple only meet in the closing moments? Nora Ephron's romantic hit of 1993 pulls off this extraordinary feat and makes it work.
Tom Hanks is Sam, a young widower, and Jonah (Ross Malinger), is his lively eight-year-old son. Endeavouring to conquer his grief, Sam moves to Seattle, settling into a luxurious houseboat. But his life remains empty, and his son calls a network radio phone-in hosted by 'Doctor Marcia'. Overcoming initial suspicion ("How do we know 'Doctor' isn't her first name?") Sam unburdens his angst over the air. In Baltimore, on the other side of the continent, Annie (Meg Ryan), a newspaper feature writer soon to be married, hears him and is instantly smitten.
Sam is inundated with proposals from women all over the country, and starts to date the good-natured Victoria (Barbara Garrick) who greets his every quip with hyena-like laughter, rendering her impossible as a surrogate mother in the eyes of the ultra-critical Jonah.
Of course there can only be one satisfactory outcome, but Ephron keeps it suspenseful to the end. A leitmotif is the old Cary Grant-Deborah Kerr weepie "An Affair to Remember", and its key scene on the Empire State Building is echoed with a nice twist in"Sleepless in Seattle".
In support are Rosie O'Donnell as Ryan's chummy boss and Bill Pullman, her fiancé, who plays with good grace what Hollywood calls "the Bellamy role" (after Ralph Bellamy who was typecast as decent but dull suitors always nudged aside so that hero and heroine could go off together). Ryan and Hanks, even apart, have the chemistry to make a very agreeable entertainment.