If you are an alcoholic, if any of your close friends or relatives
are, or if you or your close friends have a problem with anger and
depression, then WHEN A MAN LOVES A WOMAN should be in your don't miss
category. It is arguably, the most realistic film ever made about the
totality of an alcoholic's life from the highs to the lows and from
addiction to recovery and equally important about what it does to the
loved ones around them. Watch the husband and especially the kids in
Meg Ryan gives an Academy Award caliber performance as the
alcoholic, and Andy Garcia does almost well as the confused and lost
husband. Their two girls, played by Tina Majorino and Mae Whitman, are
good actresses that don't try to overact like many youngsters. They
are totally believable and thereby make you feel very sad and frighten
for their characters.
The directing by Luis Mandoki takes risks with the audience by
assuming they want honesty over entertainment. This is a frightening
show and not a fun one. The script by Ronald Bass and Al Franken goes
for the jugular in many of the scenes. A very honest portrayal of
alcoholic and her loved ones.
The movie starts with the signs of alcoholism starting to rear its
ugly head, but with many good times for Meg as she gets high and does
lots of wild and crazy things. Soon, however, Meg is in the depths of
her addition and it rules her life. She lives to drink. Her husband
is oblivious to most of her problems as she can hid it so well.
Halfway through the movie she does get treatment and gives up drinking,
and then her life gets even worse for quite a while. She was angry and
depressed while drinking, but even more so when she stops. Except with
her recovered addicts, she is unbearable to be around.
This is a unhappy tale which focuses as much if not more on the
husband of the alcoholic than on the alcoholic herself. When she was
drinking, he had a role in her life as her (unsuccessful) savior. Once
she gives up drinking, his purpose goes as well.
This is only show I can remember where they smoked, and it made
sense for them to do so. It seems that many alcoholics trade booze for
chain smoking as a lesser evil.
Copyright © 1994 Steve Rhodes