When a Man Loves a Woman

There is something about movies dealing with relationships where one of the partners is an alcoholic that is incredibly touching and invokes a great deal of empathy from the viewer. This was dramatically epitomised in Leaving Las Vegas. While Leaving resonates more deeply than When a Man Loves a Woman, the latter is more tuned to mainstream audiences and mainstream problems.

In this movie, Meg Ryan plays Alice Green, an alcoholic mother of two, who is wooed and married by Michael Green (Andy Garcia). Michael is a loving husband, and tries to do everything he can to help his wife's addiction. In doing so, he becomes addicted to helping her whenever she gets into an alcoholic stupor and winds up putting the pieces back together. When Alice, after an incident involving her daughter, checks into a rehabilitation program and starts to recover on her own, Michael feels a sense of loss that manifests itself by the couple separating.

The performances are powerful. Ryan's anguish when Garcia leaves is emotion-inducing. The scenes where the daughter finds the mother passed out in the shower, where the father and daughter smash bottles of booze together, and where the couple finally reunite are moving, and the fact they work is a tribute to the actors involved.

Ultimately the movie is about relationships, and objectification in relationships, as indicated by Alice's comment to Michael: "I am not your problem to solve". In Leaving Las Vegas, each person in the relationship accepted the other for what they were. Here, there is an attempt to change but, corny as it sounds, change must come from within.

Movie ram-blings || Ram Samudrala || me@ram.org