A man who lost his family in the September 11 attack on New York City runs into his old college roommate. Rekindling the friendship is the one thing that appears able to help the man recover from his grief.
Alan Johnson has everything he needs to get through life: a good job, a beautiful and loving wife, and their wonderful children. Yet he feels isolated because he finds having a hard-working job and managing a family too much to handle and has no one to talk to about it. Charlie Fineman, on the other hand, doesn't have a job or a family. He used to have both until a terrible loss, and the grief caused him to quit his job and isolate himself from everyone around him. As it turns out, Alan and Charlie were roommates in college, and a chance encounter one night rekindles the friendship they shared. But when Charlie's problems become too much to deal with, Alan is determined to help Charlie come out of his emotional abyss. Written by
Exterior of Manhattan Criminal Courthouse is actually Baruch College located in NYC. Production paid a little under $7,000 (as well as clean up costs) to the school for the use of their exterior. See more »
In some scenes with the GoPed, the gas tank is on the right side, while in other scenes it's on the left. See more »
Remarkable film about Grief, Family, and Friendship
This film screened last night at Austin's Paramount theater as part of the SXSW Film Festival. We were graced with the presence of director Mike Binder and stars Adam Sandler and Don Cheadle who took audience questions after the film. It is a remarkable and powerful film about what it is like to lose yourself and begin to find your way back. The performances are phenomenal and the story manages to be both tragic and funny in a way that is all too rare. (The trailer for the film tries a little too hard to emphasize the comedic aspects.)
This is a breakout role for Adam Sandler. While he has begun to transition to more dramatic roles with Punch-Drunk Love and Spanglish, this role is a significant step forward for him as a dramatic actor. He deserves an Oscar nomination as he continues down to transition to more dramatic roles as Tom Hanks did and Jim Carrey is also doing. In this role, he seemed to be trying to channel Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man. Although playing an autistic man is certainly very different than Sandler's traumatized character, both characters for different reasons are trapped in their own worlds of child-like isolation and confusion.
Don Cheadle's performance is less surprising, but just as good. After Hotel Rwanda and Crash, we've come to expect remarkable nuanced performances from Cheadle. He has the qualities of sincerity and honesty that comes through in this role. But he, too, is also broken and struggling if not in the such profound ways as Sandler's character. Cheadle is struggling with difficulties in both his marriage and in his professional life as a dentist. Together the characters played by Cheadle and Sandler struggle to heal each other in the way that true friends often do (in a way that reminds me of Matt Damon and Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting). They are both searching for that part of the themselves that they have lost and trying to find again.
Reign over Me is one of the best major studio films to be released this year. The soundtrack, which is almost another character in the plot is wonderful. The filming in the streets of New York - a city that suffered a great tragedy and has also had to heal itself - is also quite beautiful. The supporting roles by Jada Pinkett Smith, Liv Tyler, Saffron Burrows (in a very odd role), Donald Sutherland, and Mike Binder himself are all quite good.
Writer/Director Mike Binder has really delivered a story that so many will be able to connect with on numerous levels. This is a story about grief, family, healing, male friendship, mental health, and the meaning of love. Reign over Me does not disappoint. The film is almost hypnotic as it draws you into the lives of its characters. Hollywood would have a much better reputation if it made more character-driven charming films like Reign over Me.
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