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Reign Over Me - drama DVD review
REIGN OVER ME rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America rating: 5 stars
Actors: Adam Sandler, Don Cheadle, Jada Pinkett Smith, Liv Tyler
Director: Mike Binder   Studio: Sony Pictures
DVD release: 09 October 2007   Runtime: 124 minutes (1 disc)
Format: AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
DVD Features: Subtitles (English, French, Spanish, Portugese, Chinese, Korean, Thai), Audio Tracks (English, French, Spanish, Portugese, Thai - Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound), Jam session with Adam Sandler and Don Cheadle, "Behind the Reign," "A Still Reign," Previews

Reign Over Me is a movie that people either seem to love, or they feel that it is disjointed and uneven. I personally place this movie as one of the top DVDs from 2007.

The movie's description talks about it being a story of grief following a man's loss of his family on 9/11. But, overall, the 9/11 piece really has no impact on the film at all. For anyone who has experienced a tragic loss - whether on 9/11 or in any other way - Reign Over Me has a great deal to say about how people handle that grief when faced with returning to their lives afterward.

Alan Johnson (Don Cheadle) is a successful Manhattan dentist. He's married with two children and vaguely unhappy with his life. He sees his old college roommate, Charlie Fineman (Adam Sandler) on the street and, having lost touch with Charlie after Charlie lost his wife and daughters in the 9/11 attacks, Alan sets out to reconnect with him. When Alan starts to talk with Charlie, he realizes that Charlie is not dealing with the loss in a productive way. He leads a completely solitary life, and either does not remember or completely avoids talking about his family and his loss. Any time the subject even comes close to his former life, Charlie takes pains to deny and avoid.

Alan finds the freedom and friendship in his rediscovered relationship with Charlie that he has been missing in his own life. Yet, there is still a vague unsettledness that Charlie should be dealing with his grief and moving on with his life in a better way.

The writing in Reign Over Me is phenomenal, and there are so many facets to Charlie's grief and the way that each of the different characters respond to him. Reign Over Me is gut-wrenching, yet so real in the way it deals with loss that it is almost tactile. The music played during the movie greatly enhances the storyline-which at its core is about friendship. "Love Reign O'er Me" by The Who is the song Charlie listens to when he is trying to tune out the world, memories, and his feelings about his loss. New York City is also a character in the film; the setting is very important to the storyline, and the way the anonymity there can allow someone to step away from their life and be swallowed in by the city.

There are only a few special features - the typical "making of" feature, a jam session with Sandler and Cheadle, and some photos. And unfortunately for those of us who loved the soundtrack, the CD soundtrack available is only the score, not the rock music that defines the movie.

Bottom line: if you have ever experienced a deep, abiding grief, Reign Over Me will affect you to your core. You will wonder if writer Mike Binder somehow had a glimpse into your private thoughts and moments. Even if you haven't, Reign Over Me is a fantastic look at Adam Sandler's depth as an actor, as well as Don Cheadle's brilliance at making these emotions come to life on the screen.
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reviewed by Melissa Parcel
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