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Monday, January 25, 2010

Reign Over Me

I had sort of a strange experience regarding this film. Recently I was talking to a friend about movies Adam Sandler has actually been good in. I mentioned Spanglish, he mentioned Reign Over Me. I was familiar with the story, and I thought I may have seen it before, but I honestly couldn't remember. I decided to check it out.
While I was watching the film, literally every single scene was familiar to me. I realized that I must have already seen the movie. For some unexplainable reason, I had almost no prior memory of ever seeing it. This is very strange considering I usually have a very good memory for films.
The most interesting thing about the experience was how profoundly I was affected by it. I freely admit that I was all-out weeping during two or three scenes. I've cried in movies before, but I think this holds the record for greatest volume of tears shed.
I really don't know why I didn't better remember this movie after my original viewing. I'm not even sure if it affected me at all the first time I saw it.
To briefly summarize the story, Adam Sandler plays a man whose wife and three daughters were on one of the flights that hit the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. He is absolutely destroyed by his loss, and retreats into mental and emotional seclusion. He refuses to associate with his wife's parents, and has blocked out any memory of his family; simply because the pain is too great.
In general I am no fan of Adam Sandler's films. I don't particularly like his humor, but as with other comedic actors, I feel he is at his best in dramatic roles; this film proves that theory. This is by far his best performance to date.
Don Cheadle plays an old college roommate who runs into Sadler on the street, and is troubled by how disconnected from reality he seems to be. Cheadle takes it upon himself to help Sandler recover. There is a scene where Sandler finally opens up to Cheadle about his family, which is absolutely beautiful. He carefully describes his wife and three daughters, and in tears says how much they adored him. He then talks about the events which led to his family being on the airplane without him, and how he watched on the television as the planes hit the towers. It is a truly heartbreaking story, made even more profound by the fact that thousands of people actually experienced this very thing.
I've thought a lot about why this film affected me so greatly, and I can name two specific reasons: First, my greatest aspiration is to have a beautiful wife, and daughters who adore me; and I them. Second, my biggest fear in life is that I will lose the people I love, and find myself utterly alone. Reign Over Me presents exactly this situation, and it terrifies me.
I found myself aching over Sandler's loss, and struggling with the question of how I would respond to such a horrific and tragic experience. I hope that through my faith I would emerge a better person...but I can't be certain, and this worries me.
This film didn't do very well, and it received a lot of negative criticism. This honestly puzzles me. I thought it was a brilliant portrayal of a story and characters which I think we can all relate to; and if not now, certainly in the future.
If you want to check this film out, be warned that the language is quite severe. For that reason I can't recommend it. That being said, Reign Over Me is a potentially life changing film.

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