(WARNING - Although Reign Over Me is not a film with "twists" or suspense, this post does discuss several specific plot points.)
So a couple of weeks ago I was wondering here whether or not Mike Binder's Reign Over Me would be worth seeing. You chimed in in the comments in support of the film, and with a couple of mouse clicks I discovered that you in fact were one of two editors on the film.
I appreciate your enthusiasm and as I said before I'll be more than happy to announce here whether or not my expectations were exceeded. And to a degree they were. There's a sobriety to Reign Over Me that suits the story of Charlie (Adam Sandler), a man whose wife and children were killed on 9/11. Charlie survives on a government payout and insurance money, and his existence consists primarily of riding through the streets of NYC on his scooter, playing video games, and listening to music through his ever-present headphones.
Through a good chunk of Reign Over Me I didn't have the slightest belief that Charlie was experiencing soul-shattering loss or post-traumatic stress. That's because quite a bit of Charlie's behavior happens to coincide with a tamped-down version of Adam Sandler's comic persona. Charlie relates to other adults the way Sandler does in his comic films, which is to say like a man with a severe case of arrested emotional development. Binder's script allows Charlie plenty of time to tease his old roommate Alan (Don Cheadle) about a sexually aggressive patient (Saffron Burrows), debate the merits of Springsteen and the Pretenders, and eat copious amounts of takeout. That's all when he's not throwing a hissy fit every time someone tries to help him move beyond what's happened to his family.
I really began to feel for Charlie at this point, but I don't know that Mike Binder does him any favors. Charlie is left only slightly more self-aware than when things began; I won't go into the particulars, judge for yourself whether this guy shouldn't be in a hospital. I'd also add that Reign Over Me doesn't seriously address the process of recovery from grief. Tyler's therapist character might as well recite the lyrics to Springsteen's "The River" (an album referenced in the movie) for all the good she does for Charlie.
What's the verdict? Reign Over Me is the work of a maturing filmmaker, but I wonder where Binder can go with the subject of male uncommunicativeness and immaturity. (Recall Costner's drunken baseball player in Binder's The Upside of Anger). See it for Sandler and Cheadle (who displays a previously unseen harried side), the rest is worth it.