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When a Man Loves a Woman
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When a Man Loves a Woman More at IMDbPro »

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55 out of 65 people found the following review useful:

A Highly Underrated Film

Author: Brian Judd ( from Seattle, Wa.
1 August 1999

When first renting this film, I expected to see a typical love story. I found, instead, a film that truly attempted to accurately display what happens in relationships where one member has a drinking problem. It is powerful and shows the true pain and confusing that often looms over these situations. Rather than sending Alex to detox and having her come home happy, she came home very confused about life and what she was doing. This is one of the many ways this film reflects true life. My only qualm is the ending. Rather than keeping true to the story, the filmmakers seemed to give up and ended it on a happy, superficial note. Despite this letdown, I love this film and everything it tries to communicate.

Meg Ryan's performance is one of the underrated of the decade. She should have received on Oscar nomination for it and was certainly better than Jessica Lange that year. I have read a few comments here saying she did a terrible job. I would ask these people to define what a good performance is to them. Not only did Ryan communicate every possible feeling that a woman in Alex's situation could have, she did it with style and ease. Not only that, but made a dramatic move with this film from her already great performances in romantic comedy. Ryan should be applauded for taking such a huge risk and having it pay off.

Andy Garcia also has a tremendous performance in this film. He too displays very complex emotions of a faulted man with skill.

The one aspect of this film that I love so much is how no character is faultless in the whole situation. All members have contributed to the problem, and all must face up to what they did and try to improve what they have. I don't know if this makes much sense (I feel my thoughts are jumbled). In one simple statement: SEE THIS MOVIE. THE TITLE DOES NOT ACCURATELY DISPLAY THE MOVIE IT TRULY IS. The title makes it sound like another sappy love story. What the viewer gets is a tremendous study of the damage alcoholism can bring to a family.

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45 out of 51 people found the following review useful:

A Great Movie that is Hard to Watch

Author: Gary Murphy ( from Olathe, KS, USA
27 November 1999

I first saw this movie in the theater when it came out. I remember feeling frustrated. I watched it again last night on satellite and decided this really is a great movie, but it is hard to watch. It is a very real love story, but don't confuse that as meaning it is a typical romantic story.

Meg Ryan and Andy Garcia play a couple definitely in love, but struggling with their relationship after Meg Ryan's character comes back from detox. Instead of being cured, she is confused and they realize there is a wedge that comes from an experience they can't share. She has AA friends that her husband can't relate to, but she needs someone who can understand and her husband isn't it.

One mark of great writing is when the characters are not saintly or demonic, but shades of grey. Andy Garcia's character is a really nice guy, but he's not saintly. He resorts to sarcasm out of his frustration in not being able to help his wife. Of course, she doesn't want his help, she wants his understanding. She is basically a good person, but she can't sort through her feelings and ends up being unknowingly cruel to her husband.

After one scene, my wife stated, "Now HE frustrated me". I said, "I was frustrated too, but BY HER". This movie really pegs male and female relationships.

Superbly written, superbly acted. It hurts to watch it, but a movie that can evoke real emotion and not pander to the audience with contrived plot lines is a great movie. THIS is a great movie.

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41 out of 47 people found the following review useful:

Incredible insight

Author: whistlestop from Ireland
9 March 2003

This movie has me in tears throughout; it portrays the mixed

feelings, emotions and total confusion of an alcoholic wife and

mother so perfectly - and I should recognize them, as an alcoholic

of 10 years myself. Especially moving is the wonderful

performance of the elder child "Jessie" - an amazing achievement

in one so young. It certainly strengthened my resolve never to go

down that path again. I recommend it to all families of alcoholics

for an insight into our way of thinking - our shame, our inability to

control our own addiction, and the possibilty of real recovery.

Thank you, all involved.

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31 out of 36 people found the following review useful:

Loved It

Author: Jailynn from USA
4 October 1999

I saw this movie the first week when it came out and absolutely fell in love with it. My parents were alcoholics and seeing what the little girls had to go through is what made me cry so hard. I could see many reflections of my sister and I in Meg Ryan's daughters. Both her and Andy Garcia's performances were outstanding. I would recommend this movie if you have personally dealt with alcholism, or if you have been the victim of someone's abuse, because it helped me come to terms with some issues that I had been struggling with.

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20 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

very touchy

Author: rux-2 from Ont. Canada
6 August 2000

OK, 1st of all, I`m not the type who goes for this kind a movie. I have seen it accidentally by borrowing a tape from a friend of mine, years ago. When the movie started, I said I`ll give it 10-15 minutes to.... "prove itself". And it did!!! The 1st 10 minutes of the movie are excelent. When Garcia approaches Ryan and they are acting like they "go for each-other". Everybody who watches this scene for the 1st time, will definitely fall for it.

I`m not going to "yeap" about this movie. It is so good(at least I liked it) that I ended up buying it. By now, I have rewatched it a few time and I still didn`t or couldn`t get "over it". Best family drama movie I`ve ever seen. 10 out of 10.

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19 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

Not a romance comedy!

Author: kenandraf from Honolulu, Hawaii
21 December 2001

Very good romance drama that documents accurately a general U.S. middle class family affected by alcoholism.This movie is more about information and reflection on the subject than about entertainment.If you are an information starved person or a person who really enjoys reality based family dramas,you will love this one.This movie will also be more appreciated if one is familliar with a family in this situation because to most who have not seen anything like it in real life,this movie will come off as improbable although it is not.Thus we have a diverse direction of opinions from various people about this movie.The overall production is good (I've seen better).The performance of Ryan is very good but I expected more from Garcia although his performance was adequate enough.Many people also felt tricked by the movie because it seemed to be promoted/packaged as a typical feel good formula romance drama/comedy.......

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11 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Surprisingly relevant...

Author: MarieGabrielle from United States
26 September 2006

Meg Ryan is very good in this role, but after watching this again, and noticing the Andy Garcia role more pronounced, his contribution is more complicated and nuanced.

Anyone who has experienced similar issues of substance abuse, whether a family, friend or significant other, will recognize the patterns; denial, rage, hostility. Particularly effective is the role of Alice's child; the older daughter who is often on the receiving end of her drunken hostility.

The time she spends in detox could have been delineated more clearly; Philip Seymour Hoffman is good in a brief role, as a fellow patient. The pain and rage that Meg Ryan lives with is just beneath the surface, even as Garcia, puzzled, says ..."well you work, you are functioning"..., and she reveals to him that she drinks a fifth of vodka every day, even at work. It shows how the non-alcoholic cannot fathom how someone can function and seem straight, even while on the job. She is a "functional alcoholic". Her brief encounter with her mother (Ellen Burstyn) indicates why she would not be willing to admit to the problem for many years.

This is a good film because it shows there are no concrete answers, while Garcia would like to save his marriage, he sees that there are several reasons he may have enabled Ryan and her addiction. While she is attending AA and getting better, he realizes he almost feels jealous of her. There are many layers to his performance, and as he realizes he can no longer live with himself as a co-dependent, he eventually chooses to separate.

Overall a very good and effective film about substance abuse issues, the breakdown of family, and communication issues. 10/10.

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14 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Makes you understand the works of alcoholism

Author: Flo ( from Washington State
11 August 2000

This movie is excellent! I always fall for love stories, but this one was different. It made me understand and think. I began to understand the works of alcoholism. What people go through before de-tox and after. Their emotions all mixed up, and etc. I first watched it on satellite a few months ago when I read the description and saw that Meg Ryan was co-starring in the film. (Meg is one of my favorite actresses of all time.) I sat down and watched it and fell in love with the first minute! At times I would be frustrated at the man who sometimes was a smart alleck. and sometimes the woman would make me angry because she didn't realize how much he wanted to help her. This is a unique romantic story and should be watched for all ages because it warns you about alcoholism.


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14 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

an unusual Ryan outing

Author: Fiona-39 from Belfast, N.I
14 November 2002

Normally Meg Ryan is in those annoying fluffy films playing her annoying fluffy character whose one vice is eating too many corn chips or watching too many romantic movies. Here, however, is a film that does show case her considerable acting talent, and her vices are slamming down a bottle of vodka before ten in the morning, slapping her kid around, hoarding prescription pills and harrassing the neighbours. This is an unexpected gem. I also have very personal reasons for loving this film, having watched it with a friend and having to miss the last five minutes to catch a train, then going to watch it all over again on the Champs Elysees in Paris just for the ending, and then watching the other night when it was screened late on tv, in that hour where they bung in movies they don't know what to do with, and was reminded of how good it is. It is the strength of characterisation that works so well, esp the two girls. The hurt of the elder girl when she says that she just wanted to tell her mum she'd done her homework is brilliantly conveyed. That smarting sense of injustice and incomprehension regarding the adult world and its hypocrises gets me every time. Andy Garcia bloody gorgeous too.

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16 out of 25 people found the following review useful:


Author: frank56 ( from Los Angeles, California
30 September 2001

Simply put, When A Man Loves A Woman is the best story about family in America since Ordinary People and Shoot The Moon. If that sounds a bit overblown -- too bad, because it's true. As a self professed fan of foreign films, this film manages to take an honest look at alcoholism and relationships rarely seen in American films. The actors inhabit a whole life here -- they feel like a real family with entire past lives. Every actor hits the right tone -- Meg Ryan is commanding, Andy Garcia simply takes his time, as does Tina Majorino, who gives a performance alongside Haley Joel Osment's in The Sixth Sense. Another rare take the script accomplishes (with Garcia's considerable help)is conveying Michael's emotional life and struggles with loving his wife in an expected - a layer also unseen in American films. This story asks uneasy questions and dosen't always profess to know the answers -- and sometimes, that's all we have.

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