A little Hollywood magic can go a long way. It can turn the impossible to fact, conjure realities out of thin air, and make a supermodel out of just about anyone. While this glitter is exactly why we love the movies, it’s not without its issues.
After all, there would be no action movies without the glorification of violence, and there would be no romance without a little Hollywood sparkle to paste over some of humanity’s more unsettling behaviors.
As a result of this Hollywood voodoo, we often see on-screen scenarios that are presented as sweet, charming, or even comical, but that are, in reality, super creepy.
It’s a problem so widespread – particularly in romantic comedies, where you can hardly breathe for all the problematic tropes and poor character choices – that we hardly notice it any more.
While these movies might have gotten away with the unpleasant and troubling behaviors depicted within, that doesn’t mean we can’t now expose these movie characters for the creeps they really are.
10. While You Were Sleeping (1995)
While You Were Sleeping is a 1995 romantic comedy starring Sandra Bullock as Lucy Moderatz (pretty sure that’s Flemish for ‘deceitful’), a token collector at a train station. Every day, Peter Callaghan passes her booth on his commute, and she spends her days fantasizing about the life they might one day share.
Yes, that’s a little odd, but it’s not predatory, right?
Well, the movie takes a turn when Callaghan is mugged on the platform and pushed onto the tracks. Lucy jumps to the rescue, saving Callaghan’s life, but he slips into a coma, and she accompanies him to the hospital. While he’s sleeping (that’s the title! Get it?), she sits at his bedside and speaks aloud her intention to marry him. An eavesdropping nurse incorrectly identifies her as Callaghan’s fiancée, and tells his family that she is betrothed to their son.
Yes, the family are gullible for believing the obvious lie, but Lucy keeps it up while Callaghan remains unconscious. Even after he wakes and fails to recognize her, Lucy’s reluctance to own up to her lie leads everyone to conclude that Peter must have amnesia, prompting him to propose “again”.
Then, while preparing to marry into the family she has so brazenly deceived, she begins to fall for Peter’s brother, Jack. She allows her lie to go all the way to the altar before declaring to the entire Callaghan clan that she’s a fraud and she’s actually in love with Jack, not Peter.
Lucy is presented very much as being too nice to be honest, but ultimately, she deceived an entire family of people simply to trick a vulnerable man into entering a relationship. It’s hard to watch While You Were Sleeping without feeling decidedly upset on Peter’s behalf, as he’s manipulated into almost marrying a woman only to have her jilt him at the altar.