Monday, August 4, 2014

31 Days of Film - Day 4: A movie that makes you sad

Well if you've followed my blog long enough you know Toy Story 3 and War Horse both scarred me for life (I haven't watched War Horse since seeing it in theaters, and I've only watched Toy Story 3 twice since getting it on DVD). Those would be my easy choices (or Homeward Bound, or Dead Poets Society, or The Yearling). But I wanted to give a shout out to a movie that doesn't get as much love and respect as I feel it should.

Reign Over Me is, to me, the best Post 9-11 themed film Hollywood has made to date. It's also the only movie Adam Sandler has starred in that I've enjoyed. Though I'm not sure "enjoyed" is the right word. Sandler plays an incredibly sympathetic character, though for most of the film he comes off as a nutcase who is frustrating to deal with. Don Cheadle (whom I adore in just about every role he's been in) plays his former college roommate who, as life got away from him, lost touch.

They run into each other be chance, but Sandler does not recognize his old buddy and blows him off in a very... odd way. Cheadle tracks him down and tries to mend fences, while his homelife seems to be crumbling around him. Through meeting with other people in Sandler's character's life, Cheadle learns that his friend had a mental breakdown after 9-11 and the loss of his family.

There's a part towards the end of the film where Sandler explains to Cheadle why he is so despondent and "odd" and not the same person Cheadle remembers. He recounts those hours of 9-11 and reveals that his wife, daughters, and dog were all on one of the planes that hit the Trade Center... and he watched them hit the tower. Guilt and loss keeps him from wanting to live in reality. So he just ignores it and "lives". It's a touching moment, and a powerful yet understated performance by Sandler. Who knew he had it in him.

This movie is not a happy or hopeful movie. It's a good one, but not uplifting. I'm always left feeling sad and even a little empty. So I don't watch it often, but it's in my collection of films and once in a blue moon I get the courage to watch it. Because it's a very real movie. One that needs to be seen and told.

**Warning, there's "hard language" in this scene... but it's beautifully tragic.**

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