Reign Over Me (2007)

There have been plenty of movies made that tell stories of trauma; in fact, one might argue that almost all films are about traumatic experiences and how this changes and moves people through a narrative, toward either greater meaning or nihilistic chaos. These films need to find resolution in redemption or some level of healing in the afflicted person, or they ultimately settle for despair. When dealing with true tragedy, good films need to find an honest way to allow the audience to imagine the possibilities of hope and love.

Reign Over Me is this sort of film. It never sinks to the level of despair, but is accurate in not providing false hope. Charlie (Adam Sandler) has been a recluse since the loss of his wife and three daughters on 9/11. He has stopped visiting friends and family, and spends his time playing video games, listening to music and collecting records. Alan (Don Cheadle), Charlie’s former roommate, sees him scooting around town and tries to reconnect after a long absence. Alan soon realizes that he needs to try to help Charlie, but finds that the institutions in place for dealing with grief and loss are not adequate to the task. He realizes that it will require time and a slow reconnecting with a small group of new friends that might help Charlie to learn to live with the loss, and make sense of his own life. The film is really good at developing the characters, and as weird and random as the group seems, it works. The film doesn’t try to make grand statements about death and loss. Rather, it simply shows that a little reflection on life can show us who we are and what it is that we love most.



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