Reign Over Me (2007) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • A man who lost his family in the September 11 attack on New York City runs into his old college roommate. Rekindling the friendship is the one thing that appears able to help the man recover from his grief.

  • Alan Johnson has everything he needs to get through life: a good job, a beautiful and loving wife, and their wonderful children. Yet he feels isolated because he finds having a hard-working job and managing a family too much to handle and has no one to talk to about it. Charlie Fineman, on the other hand, doesn't have a job or a family. He used to have both until a terrible loss, and the grief caused him to quit his job and isolate himself from everyone around him. As it turns out, Alan and Charlie were roommates in college, and a chance encounter one night rekindles the friendship they shared. But when Charlie's problems become too much to deal with, Alan is determined to help Charlie come out of his emotional abyss.


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  • Mike Binder wrote and directed this melodrama about two men who meet after a long break in their friendship and struggle to help each other rebuild their lives. Don Cheadle is Alan Johnson, a dentist who feels smothered and unfulfilled by his comfortable life or beautiful wife (Jada Pinkett Smith), when chance brings him across his former college roommate, Charlie Fineman (Adam Sandler). Fineman lost his entire family on 9/11 and in the years that have ensued, he has completely isolated himself in a child-like existence. Refusing to acknowledge his past or the tragedy that is too horrible to even think about, Charlie is constantly listening to music, playing video games, watching movies, and banging on his drums. Alan finds himself beginning to enjoy life again in Charlie's child-like presence, but as he realizes the extent of the pain that ravages Charlie he starts to attempt to help Charlie face his past and return to the real world. Also woven into the story are the sensitive psychologist Angela Oakhurst (an excellent Liv Tyler) and a beautiful but confused woman named Donna Remar (Saffron Burows), who is struggling with her divorce. Binder himself stars in an excellent performance as Bryan Sugarman, a lawyer who was Charlie's friend before 9/11, and who Charlie now refuses to acknowledge or speak with. However, he has devoted himself to protecting Charlie's finances, living situation, and general peace-of mind.

    After working with Dr. Oakhurst, Charlie is able to begin to acknowledge the deaths of his wife and three daughters. However, the trauma of this memory nearly drives him to suicide, and after a brief stay at a mental hospital, his parents-in-law attempt to commit him permanently. Donald Sutherland and B.J. Novak appear for a courtroom scene, after which Charlie is allowed to be free and to attempt to continue slowly building a new life, with the aid of his friends and loved ones. Alan finds new strength and meaning for his life after helping Charlie, and is able to renew his relationship with his own wife and daughters.

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