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Friday, April 20, 2007

To See Or Not To See

Great Performances Saturate

By Jan Stetter

Fans expecting a comic performance from Adam Sandler will be disappointed. In this film, however, they will see his growth and increasing versatility as an actor.

Reign Over Me tells of one man’s unrelenting grief after losing his wife and daughters in the events of September 11.

Sandler plays New Yorker Charlie Fineman, a grief-stricken dentist who drops out of his life when his family dies. Payouts to the surviving family members allow him to exist in a self-imposed insular world. He is not a street person, yet he certainly could be mistaken for one. He does not engage in conversation with other people; he refuses to accept any commiseration or comfort from his in-laws, who are likewise devastated by the loss of their daughter and granddaughters.

Although the script is smart and, at times, reflects the humor shared by two guy friends, it remains a drama that places Adam Sandler amongst a cast of credible, serious actors.

Don Cheadle plays Alan Johnson, a fellow dentist and former college roommate of Charlie’s. Johnson is instrumental in encouraging Charlie to take control of his life and manages to learn the same lesson for himself.

Jada Pinkett Smith gives a winning performance as Johnson’s patient wife, waiting for him to confront his insecurities and move on. Liv Tyler has a small supporting role as a therapist who befriends Cheadle’s character and counsels a grieving Saffron Burrows, who plays a jilted wife.