.

When A Man Loves A Woman

Andy Garcia, Meg Ryan

Directed by Luis Mandoki
Rolling Stone: star rating
5 0
Community: star rating
5 0 0
May 13, 1994

A wife's alcoholism threatens her marriage and family. There's at least one crummy TV movie a week that fits that description. But stick with this surprisingly gripping love story set in San Francisco. In addition to superior performances from Meg Ryan as the wife and Andy Garcia as her husband, the film messes intriguingly with a melodramatic formula. A few home truths actually cut through the soap bubbles and the thick therapy jargon.

At first, Alice Green (Ryan) hides her drinking from her pilot husband, Michael (Garcia), and their two young daughters. Alice, a school guidance counselor, prides herself on keeping up appearances. To Michael, she's still the sexy, fun-loving girl he married. It takes him a while to recognize that Alice needs at least a quart of vodka a day to function. But when her drinking starts altering her personality (she angrily slaps one of her children) and endangering her life (she falls off a boat and nearly drowns), even Alice knows it's time for rehab.

Director Luis Mandoki (yes, the perp behind the rotten remake of Born Yesterday) cannily avoids the clinical details of withdrawal, done to death in films from The Lost Weekend to Clean and Sober. And the script, by Ron Bass (Rain Man) and Al Franken (yes, the SNL comedian), admirably refuses to pinpoint a cause for Alice's disease. Ryan is devastating; she reveals Alice's inner turmoil without makeup tricks or Oscar-begging histrionics. The audience, like Michael, is on the outside looking in. Garcia, in superb form, lets us see the confusion of a take-charge man who has to admit his own weakness to save his marriage. Even when the film threatens to sink in Hollywood gloss, Ryan and Garcia achieve a rare and remarkable poignancy.

prev
Movie Review Main Next

ADD A COMMENT

Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...

COMMENTS

Sort by:
    Read More

    Movie Reviews

    More Reviews »
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.

    X

    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “American Girl”

    Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

    It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

    More Song Stories entries »
    www.expandtheroom.com