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Reign Over Me Movie Review

Updated on October 25, 2012

Love, Life and Death

We all have reprehension about Adam Sandler, whom we have seen playing really weird funny roles like Waterboy and Zohan to play a dramatic role. Also about a not so famous or grand director like Mike Binder. And when they are making a serious movie on a sensitive topic, we expect but less from it. That might partially be the reason why Reign Over Me did well to win recognition and acceptance.

The movie is about friendship, love and the void that their absence may bring in our lives. It is about death and the grim reality that others have to face because of it. And it is about 9/11, New York and the people who witnessed that day.


Alan Johnson(Don Cheadman) is a dentist in New York who after years of marriage has become a part of a fixed routine and who loves his wife, yet somewhat despises the lack of space that he experiences from time to time. His wife Janeane(Jada) is just another New York wife who has little to complain. The story begins when one day Alan sees his old college roommate, Charlie Fineman(Adam Sandler) walking down the streets. Overtime we come to know that Charlie was once a dentist and who lost his family, that is his three daughters and wife, Doreen in the plane that flew on the dreadful day of September eleven attacks.

After meeting over coffee and spending some time, Alan soon discovers that Charlie has virtually no contact with the world except with his landlady and accountant. Besides, to overcome his pain of losing his loving wife and family, he has created an alter reality for himself where he recognizes no one from his past, including his in-laws, who are his only family left or even Alan with whom he was roommate for two years,

With time, Charlie starts bonding with Alan and very slowly starts opening up about things he has long shut down. Alan then introduces him to Angela(Liv Tyler) who is Alan's neighbor in the hospital and who is a psychiatrist. All this with a view to try and make Charlie solve his problems.

As Charlie has a lot of money from insurances and Government payouts, he has little to work for except playing in a band in a club Also he is highly addicted to some video game (I think its called Colossus or something. Sorry, not my genre.) and has a passion for collecting vinyl records and love for music. He also changes the look of kitchen every couple of months for some reasons like many other things that we come to know as the movie progresses,

Other than these, there is a character Donna(Saffron Burrows) who is going through her set of difficulties and gets somehow connected to the entire, Charlie, Angela, Alan scenario overtime.

An emotional conundrum

There are many good movies that have done a better job in approaching a problem where a person is going through a really tough phase. But sometimes they get over-dramatic or others just try to lighten up the subject. This film does not, which makes us wonder if it is better this way. It lets the tension hang in there without creating a premeditated look on how the scene must proceed or rather keeps it realistic. I heartily disagree with many critics who have called it an emotional conundrum where the actors hang in the "situation" a way too long than fit. But that is exactly what that person goes through sometimes. On the other hand, there might be people in the world who manage to make it to office the other day instead of drowning in their sorrows. Just let the character be the way it wants to be.

The movie is pleasant and uplifting. It is not about tackling the problem, rather about letting it hang there to give it some more time. Without making it too much intricate, there are moments where we are drawn into heavy backdrop of the Twin Tower attacks. The movie does have its light moments and I am surprised this thing has come out so late, but Adam Sandler has played one of the best roles in his career. And it is a pleasant surprise to see him take some responsibility. Liv Tyler looks beautiful as usual and Don Cheadle does a fine job playing a friend in need.


We can never understand what a person goes through in a tragedy and how long he will be in that abyss of loneliness and confusion. So it will be harsh to blame the director for making the movie slow. He wanted to give a lonely heart, the time to drain himself out.Yes it slacks a bit which is not too bad really though.

What however we can draw for sure is that there are lonely souls out there who are somewhere hoping that someone will just muster up enough patience to draw them out of that situation or the least, hear them out. The movie is heartwarming tale of loss, friendship, love and lastly a tribute to the memories of all the people who are left with memories of lost souls of the people who were the world to them.

P.S.: The soundtracks are soft and suit the mild mood of the movie.

Reign Over Me Movie Trailer


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