Movie comment: Reign Over Me (2007)  

Posted by Denis Haack in , , ,

Charlie Fineman (played superbly by Adam Sandler) has been ambushed by the brokenness of the world. An orphan, the aunt who raised him died just prior to his marriage. Then, after a decade of marriage and three lovely daughters (nine, seven, and five), Charlie’s family perished in one of the airplanes that were flown into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Overcome by the crushing burden of his grief, Charlie has withdrawn into a world where he does not need to remember, haunted by the pain. Serendipitously one day Alan Johnson (played by Don Cheadle) runs into him—they had been roommates in dental school—and a renewed friendship is launched.

Reign Over Me is remarkable for several reasons. It faces the horror of death with a rare honesty. It accurately depicts the brokenness that results when someone is overwhelmed by that horror, unable to find healing in his grief. Without sentimentality—everyone in this film has been touched by brokenness—Reign Over Me shows how we flourish as individuals only in community, in friendships that share all of life for blessing and for curse. And it reveals the true costliness of community and friendship. Opening our homes and lives in warm hospitality always extracts a toll en route to shalom.

For Christians Reign Over Me raises important questions. Are we willing to follow Christ in paying the necessary cost to achieve real community in a broken world? Are we willing to walk with someone for the long haul, rather than walking away if healing hasn’t occurred in six months? Do we see and treat people like Charlie, deeply disturbed people, as creatures of wonder who are made in God’s image? Are we the sort of people that those who are hiding deep secrets of regret and hurt are drawn to us because they can sense we are safe?

This entry was posted at Tuesday, September 08, 2009 and is filed under , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


Very good film. So redemptive.

September 9, 2009 at 4:07 AM

This is a thoughtful post, Denis. Thank you. Understanding another's pain means wading into it, doesn't it? And, like you said, comes at a real cost.

September 9, 2009 at 4:33 PM

Wow, I thought I must be the only person in the whole world who has seen this movie! I rented it from our local convenience store (yeah, small town, it's all we've got) and was blown away by it -- kind of like the first time I saw Les Miz (after it had already been on Broadway forever) and went around spluttering, "Why didn't anyone ever TELL ME that this story is about redemption???" I was awed by Sandler's performance, wondering what he was drawing upon within himself and how he got it so right.

September 9, 2009 at 7:49 PM

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