When Love Is Not Enough: The Lois Wilson Story
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14 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

The truth would have made a better movie.

Author: monalisasilvaggio from United States
26 April 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

As a recovered alcoholic and student of AA history, I found myself shaking my head with both disappointment and amusement as I watched this movie. In addition to the overly melodramatic tone, the story left out several critical facts, among them: (1) Bill W. was an absolutely notorious womanizer, not only while drinking but also after he got sober, even going so far as to leave 10% of his Big Book royalties to his favorite mistress, Helen W.; (2) the writing of the Big Book was a collaboration, and several chapters were not written by Bill W., although he alone got royalties; (3) the chapter in the BB entitled "To Wives", which was presented as having been written by Lois, was actually written by Bill, who apparently did not believe that she could do it justice--this infuriated Lois (and one can only imagine her thoughts about Bill's bequest to his mistress).

To my mind, leaving those things out turned this story into nothing more than Hallmark's usual pabulum. I would vastly have preferred the truth, which is that Lois never stopped putting up with an incredible degree of selfishness and arrogance from Bill, because he cheated on her for their entire marriage. Not only that, but his predatory behavior was a big problem in early AA, so much so that a "Founders Watch" committee was formed in an attempt to keep him from hitting on the attractive, vulnerable women coming to the program for help. The sickening sweetness with which Bill and Lois's relationship was portrayed did nothing to edify: it was like a typical, predicable, and ultimately untruthful AA lead in which the alcoholic finds AA, receives the "miracle of sobriety" and lives happy ever after.

The one thing I did like about the movie was that it presented Al-Anon for the most part as what Al-Anon actually is: a 12 step program where members work exactly the same steps as AA. Many people, including mental health professionals, mistakenly believe that Al-Anon exists to help family members understand what the alcoholic is going through, or to help him or her quit drinking, when nothing could be further from the truth.

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8 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

"When Love Is Not Enough: The Lois Wilson Story" is a quite inspirational "Hallmark Hall of Fame" movie

Author: tavm from Baton Rouge, La.
23 May 2010

Just watched this "Hallmark Hall of Fame" TV movie on my DVR. It stars Winona Ryder as the wife of the founder of Alcoholics Annonymous, Bill Wilson, here portrayed by Barry Pepper. Over and over again, after he goes from the joys of Wall Street to the firing after the Stock Market Crash, Lois suffers from his constant drinking despite frequent promises to stop until he hits rock bottom and starts his program. But she still can't have him to herself so when she invites the other wives of reformed alcoholics to the home, she inadvertently starts her own group called Al-Anon. I have to tell you right now, all those scenes of Ms. Ryder just crying and getting angry really put me through the ringer! I've read about some of the omissions of their lives in the other comments but despite that, I found this film very compelling to watch and quite inspirational too. So on that note, I highly recommend When Love Is Not Enough: The Lois Wilson Story.

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10 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Very good

Author: vchimpanzee
7 May 2010

At the beginning of this fact-based Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation about the couple who helped start Alcoholics Anonymous, Lois and Bill Wilson get married in 1918 before he goes off to serve in World War I.

After the war, Bill returns home and works on Wall Street. Lois, whose father is a doctor, works as a nurse with the mentally ill.

Bill realizes that it would be helpful for investors to know about the companies they invest in, so he starts analyzing the companies, something not done much in the past. This involves lots of travel, including a motorcycle trip with Lois that involves comic misadventures.

The work is stressful but eventually rewarding. Bill copes with the stress by drinking. He and his friends often get together and drink. Never mind Prohibition. Everyone in this movie finds a way.

Bill gets abusive when he drinks, but he keeps promising he will stop. And then he eventually starts again and the problems continue.

Lois gets pregnant but can never carry a baby to term. Perhaps this is all for the best since it wouldn't be a good idea to bring up a child in a home where the father behaves the way Bill sometimes does. One of the couple's friends admits this when the couple tries to adopt.

The Depression eventually puts an end to the prosperity the Wilsons and so many others have experienced. Bill finds this a reason to drink, but sooner or later he will have to stop one way or another.

This movie does a good job of showing how hard it is to stop drinking and to keep from starting again, and shows how it is possible for people with a common problem to support each other.

Winona Ryder and Barry Pepper both do a very good job. I expect Ryder to be nominated for some award.

I enjoyed the music. During the 1920s, there is a lot of music which one could dance the Charleston to, but there are also other enjoyable styles of music from that era. One song included a fiddle and several other instruments.

I wouldn't recommend this to young children because the subject matter is quite adult, but this is still a family movie in a sense and doesn't really include offensive content. So much of the movie is depressing and hard to watch, but there is plenty of positive content too.

It's a worthy effort.

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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

"I'm talking about me now."

Author: Steve Skafte from Nova Scotia, Canada
25 October 2010

"When Love Is Not Enough" is a film of a very specific style. That sort of style most commonly seen in films which consider the most effective way to depict a period drama is in mimicking the film-making style of said period. If you can swallow all the tear-jerking music and glossy cinematography, you will certainly appreciate the story better. But I found myself aching for a little bit more grittiness. Even much older alcoholic dramas such as "The Lost Weekend" or "Days of Wine and Roses" had a degree of emotional intensity not quite present here. Then again, this is a TV movie, and similar expectations are not necessarily in play.

Winona Ryder and Barry Pepper are two of my favorite actors. They don't disappoint here. Pepper (as Bill Wilson) is appropriately pathetic for the better half of the film, believably drunk and unhinged. Ryder (as Bill's wife, Lois) is given somewhat less to work with. Some of her dialogue during the more intense arguments is so wordy and roundabout that she seems tied between losing her breath and keeping a straight face. Both of which tend to get in the way of projecting emotion.

It's a good enough film. The story takes you through the events of Bill and Lois' married life, always without making you feel like it's arbitrary or scripted out. The unfortunate side is how John Kent Harrison doesn't offer anything at all outstanding with his direction. The look is flat, clean, ordinary. He sometimes uses off-kilter angles in the composition, which is always distracting and immediately makes one think of 1960s television shows. Harrison prevents the actors from pushing further than expected, and gives nothing but limitations to the production.

In the end, this is probably worth watching. The actors give enough guts and passion to make it worth your time. It's nothing to subvert even the lowest of expectations, but you get the sense that everyone tried their best. And that's commendable, even when their best is not enough.

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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Well done

Author: gs-web from Paradise, California
26 April 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Hallmark Hall of Fame presented this version of the true story of Lois Wilson - wife of Alcoholics Anonymous co-founder Bill Wilsoon - tonight for the very first time. This film, while reminiscent of the 1989 film, "My Name is Bill W.," has a fresh angle on the story because this is the tale as told by Bill W's wife in her book by the same name. ("My Name is Bill W." is also a Hallmark Hall of Fame film.) Winony Ryder plays Lois Wilson and ages from 20 to 50 in the film. Ryder does a fantastic job of portraying the good, bad and very bad times experienced by long-suffering Lois. Barry Pepper is Bill Wilson and does a fantastic job of playing Bill. He looks very much like Wilson and possessed the acting skills necessary to keep the audience on the roller coaster ride from young soldier to husband to successful stock broker to broken down drunk and beyond. I loved the fact that they kept the story line with Lois and only portrayed Bill Wilson's role as needed for continuity.

I found the scene when Lois' mother gave Lois advice on her deathbed to be particularly poignant and heart wrenching. For Alcoholics Anonymous members, this is a film about the founder of AA and his wife. For Al-Anon members, this is a filmed dedication to their founder. If you are a fan of the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, you will love this film. For others I think this film is definitely worth a watch - if nothing else it should serve as a warning to those who have a drinking problem that it is time to stop.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Movie needed an intervention

Author: michaelgm from United States
2 May 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

After I watched this eagerly awaited, but ultimately disappointing film, one of my first thoughts was that this film needed its own version of Al-Anon. Lois Wilson, like many spouses of users, spent all of her energies dealing with the fall-out of living with an alcoholic; did the movie have to do the same thing? When one has less than two hours to tell a complex story about a fascinating woman, did we really need an hour and twenty or thirty minutes of the constant cycle of dankness, shame, recriminations, and broken promises? Don't get me wrong, I'm sure this harrowing cycle repeats itself in every user's home--it's just that when there was so little time to tell such a complicated story, I would have preferred less binges and more character development. I didn't get a good sense of what drew these two together in the first place. There were so few scenes other than those of "saintly wife props up troubled husband," that I just didn't get a sense of them as a married couple. I didn't feel Pepper and Ryder had that much chemistry together. Since much was made of the fact that the real Lois Wilson was 3 or 4 years older than Bill, it didn't help the situation to cast an actress with such a youthful persons with an actor who always looked appreciably older than her--and, yes, I know drink ages you, but he looked a lot older than her at the wedding. Hallmark seems to have lost its mojo.

Poster formerly known as FilmNutgm

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Sweet Ryder as the perfect wife in a heart warming story

Author: dgg321982 from Germany
22 July 2011

Sure, the story of Mr and Mrs Wilson is a very true one, so true that we can hear around us now and then. Before watching it, I never know the alcoholism can be so devastating and make the victim so helpless. And the depression adds insult to the injury, making their lives even down to the bottom. I had to watch this part with great uneasiness. This lasted until the very end, where everything seemed to be OK again. What can I say, exactly such an up and down makes a warm story about devoting love and faith.

I am impressed that Mr Wilson finally made it and, not only helped himself but also the others. But I am more impressed by his wife Lois, her devoting love and firm support to her husband, which, if I were in Mrs Wilson's shoes, would have divorced him at least three times over. Sure, this film is from her angle telling the story and understandably making her the closest entry point for the viewers. Nevertheless, her sweetness and forgiveness is never shadowed or shaded by this setting. One might wonder, who else can play Lois Wilson better than Ryder. I don't know how the real Lois looks like, but as long as the real story goes like the one in this film, the role will be tailored to Ryder. After all, I really can't think of another actress in Hollywood has a small share of Ryder's sweetness and shyness.

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"When love is not enough:the Lois Wilson story"

Author: francescof86 from Italy
15 November 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"When love is not enough" is an amazing TV film based upon the novel "The Lois Wilson story:when love is not enough" by William Borchet. The screen adaptation centers on Lois Wilson's(Winona Ryder)struggle with the alcohol dependence of her husband Bill Wilson(Barry Pepper)and the subsequent foundation of such institutions as Al-Anon and Alcoholics Anonymous that for the first time dealt publicly with this plague.The script displays efficiently and it offers plenty of dramatic moments played exceptionally by the two leading actors. Winona Ryder("The age of innocence";"Little women";"The crucible","Girl,interrupted"),in her first meaty role in years,is and proves again to be the serious dramatic actress we were used to;Barry Pepper is extraordinary in a challenging role. How such an incredible leads have been ignored by the Emmys and the Golden Globes, except a Screen Actors Guild award nomination for Miss Ryder and many Satellite award nominations, is a true mystery. Such a shame. My vote is 10/10.

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This movie is for everyone, not just 12-steppers

Author: GreatPersonality from United States
27 April 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Like the last reviewer, I was also expecting at least a hint at Bill W's notorious womanizing, and it was disappointing that Lois W's experience wasn't fully represented. But I think the movie was successful in capturing the ongoing destructiveness of the disease and eventual dissolution of hope, as well as the expectation that love can fix everything. The acting was real. Winona Ryder's beauty is toned down but she is still beautiful and also believable, and--like most alcoholics I know--Barry Pepper's Bill W was mesmerizing and charismatic. When he's on screen, you can't take your eyes off him. It's a beautiful movie to watch, with lush sets and costumes. The pacing is good, as well.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Yes Yes! YES

Author: Lark W from United States
17 November 2011

While acknowledging that Bill Wilson was not perfect (um ... who is?), his contribution to alcoholic mankind was out of this world. I am speaking from someone who appreciates the history of Alcoholics Anonymous. It is quite fascinating.

I've been to Dr. Bob and Anne's house in Akron, Ohio; A.A. World Services in New York several times; and Lois and Bill's Bedford Hills home - Stepping Stones. I enjoyed seeing the Bible where Bill wrote his pledges ~ at one of these places (been awhile; can't recall where.)

The movie touched my heart. I appreciated the brilliance in its creation. Winona Ryder and Barry Pepper were outstanding as well. I highly recommend it to anyone.

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