Worth A Look: 27.27%
Pretty Bad: 4.55%
Total Crap: 9.09%
1 review, 16 user ratings
|When a Man Loves a Woman
Alcoholism is an illness. This film deals seriously with this problem.When the film opens, we meet Alice and Michael Green. They are married with two children. At first, it seems that Alice and Michael have a perfect marriage. However, it is not very long before we discover that Alice has a problem: she is an alcoholic. It is this problem that drives the plot.
WARNING – In order to review this film and discuss its meaning, I have to reveal the ending. So . . . if you don't want to know what happens in the end, please don't read this until after you have seen the film.
The theme of this film is emotional dependency. When Alice’s drinking problem becomes so obvious she can no longer hide it from her children, and when she is unable to get over it herself, she seeks help. In getting this help, she becomes emotionally dependent on her husband. Instead of taking control of her own destiny, she wallows in self-pity, blaming her husband for not understanding and for not doing enough to help her. He becomes her whipping-boy.
The following dialogue illustrates how she uses him as a whipping boy. This conversation takes place after Michael has attended the Al-Anon meeting for the partners of alcoholics:
I’m talking about some losers at my meeting. You’re taking it personally.
The trouble with all those losers at your meeting . . . Is that they’re not perfect like some people. They’re married to alcoholics who are bouncing off the walls,and they don’t know what the fuck to do. So you might have to be a little tolerant, give them the benefit of your expertise in problem solving.
(She says the word “expertise” very sarcastically.)
Because of her self pity, Alice keeps concentrating on her own emotions. Her emotional development stops because she uses Michael as a crutch. It isn’t until she separates from him that she is able to move beyond her own self-centred attitude and heal herself. After the separation, she understands herself better. Her speech at the AA meeting shows this. It is at this point that she is then ready to live with Michael again.
One very important scene is the one where Michael comes home and Gary (Alice’s friend from her rehab) is with her. Michael and Alice have a confrontation and her self pity and self-absorption is evident. That scene is followed by a crucial scene at Michael’s Al-Anon meeting where a woman called Joanna is telling the group about how she was emotionally abused by her husband. I believe the purpose of the scene is that the woman’s words are giving us a summary of what Alice is doing to Michael.
Until I came to Al-Anon, I was not even aware of how cruelly I was abused by my alcoholic husband, because I did not own my own feelings. Every waking hour was about my husband’s feelings.
When he was down, I was lower. When he was happy, I thought I was too. Every day I walked in that door waiting to see what shape he was in, so I could find out how I was gonna feel. Now, thanks to this program, I not only have my own feelings, but I have feelings about my feelings.
(Close up on Michael here – emphasizing he needs to have feelings about his feelings so he can deal with Alice properly.)
Michael gets up and leaves at this point. He then goes home and has a confrontation with Alice, and her words and actions confirm what Joanna said in the meeting.
Michael Green is a man who likes to be in control. He never really communicates with Alice (until the end), and she feels the lack of this communication.
There are several times in the film that we see the controlling aspect of Michael’s personality. For example, in the scene with the guidance counsellor, he speaks for Alice. She then says that he annoys her when he tries to control the situation, and she gives the guidance counsellor two examples of Michael’s controlling behavior. One was when Alice was trying to settle fight a between her two daughters and Michael took over. Another example was when Jess wanted to go to her girlfriend’s house but wouldn’t do her homework. Alice told her she couldn’t go, and Michael then walked in and erased everything Alice said.
Even though he has cares about Alice and wants to help her, the controlling aspect of his personality prevents them getting along. And, even though she doesn’t like his controlling behavior, it makes her dependent on him. (As the film later shows, she had to find her own space in order to find the inner strength to heal.)
Michael also belittles her. An example of this is the scene where she is hung over and he tells her that she has all she can handle with her coffee and little spoon.
The region four DVD has very good sound considering it is Dolby Stereo 2.0. The sound track included some great songs (“When a Man Loves a Woman,” “Crazy Love,” and “Everybody Hurts” ). These songs give a nice romantic feeling to the film.
The color was natural with no special palates. However, the region four DVD had no extras whatsoever.This is a serious film. It makes you think about terrible cost of addiction to alcohol, and also about the fragile nature of relationships.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=5753&reviewer=228
originally posted: 02/06/02 00:49:14