Demonstrating the same understanding of the complexities of human relationships that characterized his 2006 film, THE UPSIDE OF ANGER, and his short-lived HBO series, THE MIND OF THE MARRIED MAN, writer/director Mike Binder once again taps into the same fertile ground in this story of one man's difficulty reconnecting with the world after experiencing a great tragedy.
In another role showcasing his relatively untapped talent for dramatic roles, Adam Sandler is Charlie Fineman, a New York dentist whose post-traumatic stress caused by the loss of his wife and children on 9/11 sees him regressing to a sort of second childhood dominated by videogames, record collecting, and riding his motor scooter around the city.
A chance run-in with his former college roommate, fellow dentist, and family man Alan Johnson (Don Cheadle) spurs Charlie's first attempts at remembering his past. But though Alan is genuinely glad to try and help Charlie, it will take more than the company of a good friend to get Charlie back to the world.
Striking just the right balance between comedy and pathos, Binder's script elicits another great performance from Cheadle, and allows Sandler to continue to prove that he's capable of far more than the comedies that made him a box-office superstar.
They are accompanied by a stellar supporting cast including Jada Pinkett Smith as Alan's vigilant wife, Janeane; Liv Tyler as the therapist who finally gives Charlie a healthy outlet for his grief; and Saffron Burrows as a neurotic patient of Alan's.
Though REIGN OVER ME could be classified as a post-9/11 film, Binder never belabors or exploits the point and never actually mentions the event by name.
The stunning New York location shots look as lovely as any in cinematic memory.