Games as a Coping Mechanism in Reign Over Me

Reign Over Me is a 2007 Adam Sandler/Don Cheadle project about two friends who have been long out-of-touch suddenly reconnecting and learnin more and more about one another. If you haven't seen the movie, you totally should. Don't be dissuaded by Adam Sandler's name attached. In this, a serious role for him, he performs exceptionally well.

You've been warned.

Charlie Fineman (Adam Sandler) lost his wife and children when the Twin Towers went down in the 9/11 attacks. As a reuslt of the trauma, he wanders aimlessly around New York on his motorized scooter, his large headphones tuning out the noise of the city, separating himself from the memories of his family.

Alternatively, Alan Johnson (Don Cheadle) is doing well for himself. An established dentist with a successful practice, it would seem that things are going well for him. However, the pressures of professional and familial life weigh deeply on him, and he runs into Charlie at the perfect time for them both to find some restoration.

Charlie's mental state is called into question during the film, and he is encouraged to meet with a shrink, played by Liv Tyler. He is unresponsive, though, and she encourages him to tell his story to someone, someone he can trust. He confides in Alan about his family, though suffers a mental breakdown afterwards, attempting to commit suicide by cop.

Charlie is brought before a judge to determine whether he should be hospitalized against his will, who decides to let Charlie free, as long as he seeks mental health care.

Shadow of the Colossus.

What's interesting about the choice of this game is the way that it can provide a unique form of catharsis, or continue the cycle of trauma for Charlie. This man lost everything important in his life in one major tragedy; a tragedy of two colossal structures toppling to the ground. In a way, his playing Shadow of the Colossus is a way for Charlie to reclaim agency over the tragedy in his life. He doesn't have to sit idly by as these mammoth structures collapse, he is the agent responsible for their falling.

It's a weird form of catharsis in that respect; it gives Charlie the ability to manage his trauma and his stress and anxiety through an outlet that engages him. The game could also be perpetuating his ordeal, though, because in a way he is constantly reliving the stress and trauma of the towers falling.

Whether for good or bad, though, it is clear that SotC is used as a coping mechanism by Charlie, and Reign Over Me remains one of the only films to incorporate videogames as that kind of coping system.

Vin. New York born and bred. Big fan of stories in every form- oral, written, televised or otherwise. I like to hear great stories as well as tell good ones.
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