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Love…reign o’er me

December 29, 2008

My parents and I just finished watching Reign Over Me, starring Don Cheadle and Adam Sandler (with many other fairly big-name actors/actresses scattered throughout), and I had forgotten how spectacular of a movie it is. If you haven’t seen it yet, do yourself a favor, rent it and expect to spend an emotional night on your couch. Besides having a captivating storyline in general, there are a few points that I recognized and wanted to share.

The crux of the movie revolves around the two main male characters, Cheadle a successful oral cosmetologist (?) and Sandler a possibly-insane former family man and dentist. But the main underlying story is that both characters are paralyzingly jealous of what each perceives as the other’s advantages. Cheadle has a steady job, a wife and daughter. Sandler has almost complete freedom…(technically) single, a pot of money and no real responsibilities to think of. Granted, Sandler is grieving  something fierce (don’t want to ruin too much now), but Cheadle sees Sandler’s no-strings-attached lifestyle as a welcome change from his monotonous and routine life. Sandler desperately wants to have a steady life again, the life that he did have, the life that he should have and the life that Cheadle has. All the while Cheadle’s feeling suffocated by his wife and responsibilities. Neither sees the opportunities that he has and the blessings of the present.

And to go along with all of his pain, Sandler exhibits the classic male reaction: don’t talk about it. I know everyone always hears that talking about your difficulties helps you deal with them, and Sandler does a spectacular job portraying the pain of his character and the prison that he constructs for himself. About two-thirds of the way through the movie, a psychologist tells SAndler that he needs to tell someone his story…and he does…and it’s the most touching scene of the whole movie. Not only does one sympathize with Sandler’s character, but it’s a vivid illustration of something that all men (and women I guess) go through. It’s definitely better to tell someone your story, whether it’s rife with pain or joy, sorrow or laughter. Everyone has a story, and everyone else can learn from your story. So share it. Because if you don’t…who will?

Finally, the whole idea of love “reigning” over you instead of “raining” over you. It’s such a portrait, a juxtaposition of what we would most expect compared with what we should most desire. Not love falling out of the sky from nowhere, but love literally ruling your life. Love completely directing your thoughts and actions. Imagine what the world would be like if everyone’s life was literally “reigned” by love. Like a king watching over the needs and desires of his subjects. Totally surrendering to love and trusting that it’ll lead you in the right direction. By the way, the title of the movie comes from the song “Love Reign O’er Me” by the Who. For a taste, see below.

So in the end, there are two characters on opposite ends of the spectrum who are trying to negotiate their own lives and their desires for their lives. Which one are you? And have you shared your story with anyone recently?

And if you’re partial to Pearl Jam (cover):

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