Welcome to another edition of Movie Review Monday!
This week's movie is 2007's Reign Over Me, starring Don Cheadle and Adam Sandler.
A rare dramatic performance from Sandler, this movie follows Cheadle's character, Alan Johnson, as he seeks to pull Sandler's character, Charlie Fineman, from a deep depression following the loss of Charlie's wife and kids in the September 11 attacks on New York City. Alan and Charlie used to be college roommates and Alan recognizes a disheveled Charlie one day and that is where the story starts. Charlie has retreated into a immature bubble where he refuses to even acknowledge his loss, cutting himself out from the rest of the world.
The main story is supported by Liv Tyler as a counselor who works to help Charlie, and Alan's wife who is played by Jada Pinkett Smith. The story is hard to watch at times, in a sort of neutral way. Charlie is quickly prone to anger when people try to get him to open up and Alan keeps trying to help him, but to no avail. You feel Charlie's emotions strongly but you also feel the frustration of Alan and those around him who are all trying to help Charlie. It gets hard to watch when Charlie is throwing his tantrums right when you think he's getting somewhere, and you just want there to be a happy ending, but there isn't. The movie is raw and real and it makes it a tough watch if you're not looking for something gut-wrenching and emotional.
This movie explores dark nuances of loss and depression that I don't feel like I've seen in a lot of other films. It deals with the compulsion some people have to fix things, and how we can't force any one, even those we care about, to do anything they aren't ready for.
I'd recommend this movie, especially as the national conversation around mental health is ongoing. It was a movie ahead of its time, I feel, and is definitely worth a viewing now.
You can stream Reign Over Me right now on Netflix.