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October 4th, 2006:
Charlie Fineman (Adam Sandler
) has completely shut himself off emotionally from the outside world. During the attacks that occurred on September 11th, he lost his wife and daughters and has been barely been able to cope with the daily intricacies of life since. An unlikely reunion with Alan Johnson (Don Cheadle
), Charlie’s old college roommate, changes things. The two rekindle their friendship and suddenly there seems to be hope that Charlie may recover from his grief after all. Since college, Alan has become a doctor and quickly becomes determined to help his old friend to find a way out of his depression.What to Expect:
Writer-director Mike Binder
started with forgettable films like Indian Summer and the dismal comedy Blankman, but has shown substantial transformation with his last picture, The Upside of Anger. The drama
was released early in 2005 and featured Kevin Costner
and Joan Allen
giving two terrific performances in a warm and deeply human film. Binder has since been able to get other projects rolling, but it could be argued that he’s been having trouble getting them released. His comedy Man About Town
, which stars Ben Affleck
, has been on hold collecting dust for quite some time now, while Reign Over Me has gone through a series of title and release date changes. It was originally slated to open December 1st, 2006, but has since been stripped of the prime spot and has been pushed back to a slightly less stellar March opening. Of course, December releases are typically hyped as Oscar caliber material. The date change is therefore a little puzzling considering that the test screenings have reportedly gone over quite well. Article continues below
For Adam Sandler, Reign Over Me marks a return to drama, a concept that would have been unfathomable a decade ago, but seems quite fitting at this point in his career. When the film was previously positioned to open in December, there were the inescapable rumors of a possible Oscar nomination for the comedian, but such hopes have died down since. At the very least, Sandler seems to have gone through one of his biggest physical transformations for the role as is evidenced by the on-set photograph showcasing him with a big head of grey hair and the uncharacteristically plain looking outfit. Amusingly, Brad Pitt
was considered for this role and it is strange to think that the part eventually went to the funnyman. What is even more bizarre is the fact that I think that Sandler is probably more appropriate for the role, with Pitt currently basking in the type of distracting glory of celebrity status that seems insurmountable when one is asked to suspend disbelief. Sandler’s subdued and poignant performance in the brilliant Punch-Drunk Love a few years ago has made anything possible.
Although the film will revolve primarily around Sandler’s character, there are a few other relevant players in the story. Don Cheadle, who gave a career defining, Oscar-worthy performance as the brave hotel manager in Hotel Rwanda, stars opposite of Sandler. The veteran actor proved to be such a consummate professional in that film that I would expect nothing less than another truly solid turn from him as Alan Johnson. Then there are the three female stars of the picture. Jada Pinkett Smith
will play Janeane, Alan’s wife, Liv Tyler will play Angela, a psychiatrist that becomes romantically interested in Sandler’s character, and Saffron Burrows
will play Donna, one of Alan’s patients, who becomes entangled in relationships with both of the men.
The film’s title is inspired by the song “Love, Reign O’er Me” by the rock band the Who, which I suppose is fitting given the song’s theme of yearning for redemption. In this case, it is personal redemption following the tragic events of 9/11. Unlike United 93
or World Trade Center
, Reign Over Me is only a sort-of September 11th themed movie. Reportedly, the film does not manipulate the events into an emotional melodrama, but rather uses them as a distant backdrop to tell a story of how people bury pain and eventually come to terms with it. It will deal with the subject rather quietly, which is probably the best way to do it, not because the subject should be avoided, but because it should not be approached in an omniscient tone.In Conclusion:
While Reign Over Me may no longer seem like a hot Oscar contender, Sony
will definitely not neglect it. The film was shot in New York and Los Angeles with a budget slightly over $20 million so there will clearly be promotion behind it. With Adam Sandler in the lead and stars like Don Cheadle and Liv Tyler part of the cast, it should appeal to most audiences. However, this is not likely to be a film with a lot of pizzazz. Artistically, Reign Over Me will probably take on a relatively muted approach – a human drama in the vein of Binder’s last picture, The Upside of Anger.Similar Titles: The Upside of Anger