21st Century
The Future
World Travel
Books & Film
Original Fiction
Opinion & Lifestyle
Politics & Living
Film Space
Movies in depth
Kid's Books
Reviews & stories

The International Writers Magazine: DVD

Reign Over Me (DVD review)
Directed and written by Mike Binder in 2007, starring Adam Sandler, Don Cheadle.
Josef Fisher

Dr. Alan Johnson (D.Cheadle) is a well-situated dentist, loving and loved father and husband. He meets his friend Charlie (A.Sandler) whose family died in one of the planes on September 11th 2001. Medically speaking he suffers from posttraumatic stress disorder, in effect he seems to be very... subnormal. Alan wants to help him, he tries, tries, tries and somehow he succeeds, realizing during this journey his life is not as perfect as we and he thought.
There are all clichés you would expected of this kind of film – painful conflicts of normal and subnormal world, emotionally offensive monologs, wild altercations, sudden deaths, loving and tears wringing gestures. There are also great actors’ performances, good directing and it its way clever script. Basically it is a good although somewhat calculating film with a clear message – there is something wrong with the world and people in it.

There are terrible things happening around; the planes are crashing, people dying, couples getting divorced, impacted ones getting mad, relationships are emotionally empty, families can fall apart after one innocent interference from the outside, people don’t share their feelings and needs, money rule. This is the world Reign Over Me is about, this is the world everybody knows very well, if not from experience than at least from TV or cinemas. And this is also the world where ordinary people can’t be really happy without help from another world (meaning somehow unordinary people). Rich ones live their lives in invisible emotional emptiness, fulfilling their duties as parts of the society, waiting for some innocent soul which would show them how to be really happy. Poor ones... live their lives in other films but in contemporary cinematography there is a very little difference. We are no longer in fairy tales where happy poor peasants show aristocracy the true path to happiness. The poor are not innocent anymore and if they really want to show someone the true path they have to be retarded to be taken seriously (I am Sam for example).

But let’s go back to Reign over me and to the way it shows the society. Western society. American society. There are just two problems shown in it – terrorists and emotions. And because the terrorists work here as fuse and background for the main story about frustrated or unsatisfied lives, one could say there is just one problem people in the west have. And they are not able to deal with it anymore, not even a shrink can really help them. T

here is a need for some innocent soul. It could be child but you know how spoiled the children are nowadays. It better be autistic (Rain Man), mentally retarded (I Am Sam) or our from posttraumatic disorder suffering man to show us the real importance of the family, love and friendship. There used to be fairy tales to tell us that. But it seems they don’t work anymore. Today’s stories have to be much more persuasive to have some effect. No more E.T.s, no more dwarfs, no more talking animals. ‘Normal abnormality’ is now in great demand. People probably don’t trust each other.

Maybe words about feelings coming ordinarily from ordinary mouths would be considered insincere. It is sad if it is true. But Reign Over Me and other similar films claims it is. So be it. At least we don’t have to wait for aliens to give us absolution. We just need to find ourselves someone really innocent and honest to show us the path.
© Josef Fisher Nov 2007

The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen)DVD
Directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck 2006,
Josef Fisher
There are different ways how film-makers from formal satellite states of the Soviet Union deal with their communist past.

Joseph is visiting the UK and the University of Portsmouth from the Czech Republic

More reviews


© Hackwriters 1999-2007 all rights reserved - all comments are the writers' own responsibiltiy - no liability accepted by or affiliates.