The rest of my review is available here.
Mike Binder was the perfect person to make this film. There are many filmmakers that could have captured the outburts, the anger and the despair. But depression is about more than anger and despair. In Reign Over Me, Binder focuses his film on all of the time that passes in between, when people filled with loss and hopelessness have to exist and fill the time.
He doesn't make his subject, Charlie Fineman, psychotic or insane. Despite the manner in which we first meet him, Charlie's problem isn't lack of clarity. It's too much clarity, seeing the things that matter to him most every single day and having to deal with the fact they're never coming back. Charlie wants so desperately to be insane, to be a person damaged enough to lose the part of him that matters most.
The protagonist, Dr. Alan Johnson DMD, has a beautiful wife and lovely polite little children. He runs a successful practice and maintains a comfortable lifestyle. But he is no less alone than Charlie, and like Charlie does little more than count his days. Henry David Thoreau once said that "the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation." These two are certainly ringing endorsements of his theory.
Alan and Charlie find in each other a friendly face from a time before their present problems. Together they still do little more than pass the time, but they make a much better go of it with the extra company. Gradually Alan gets glimpses into the part of Charlie's world that is no longer directly acknowledged. Gradually Charlie is entrusted with the areas of Alan's life that he insists are fine to every one else.
As it turns out, Charlie had a beautiful wife and three beautiful little girls once. They even had a little dog. They were visiting family in Boston, and he was going to meet them in Los Angeles. They got on one of two American Airlines flights from Logan to LAX that did not make it that morning.
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