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Film Review: “When a Man Loves a Woman” (1994) ★★★★★


Photo by Touchstone Pictures – © 1994

What is better when it comes to fixing a broken relationship? Enabling it and pretend as if nothing is happening? Or trying to fix it by putting a bandage over a gunshot wound? Or perhaps, starting everything all over again? Luis Mandoki’s WHEN A MAN LOVES A WOMAN starring Meg Ryan and Andy Garcia talks about an airline pilot, Michael Green (Andy Garcia) who holds his wife, Alice (Meg Ryan) from falling to the bottom due to alcoholism, but does not face the real problem until the moment when her addiction threatens the life of their daughter, and their marriage. After letting her go to detox, Michael comes face to face with the truth of his enabling behavior. But what else could he do, if his love for her is so strong that he agreed to support her in everything, even if that means to close his eyes and follow her till the precipice?

You must know one thing before you start watching this film: it’s one of the most painful movies to watch, and unfortunately, still and always be relevant no matter in what century we will live. When the movie begins, you find Alice and Michael in a local bar, where they pretend that they don’t know each other. However, a minute later, you realise they are married, and what they did a second ago is just their desire to bring back the day they met. By looking at them, it is impossible to predict the storm that’s about to hit their ideal life. Despite not giving us the reason of Alice’s addiction to alcohol, you will be left alone with Michael, to figure it out with him while he seeks for an answer.

As the story unfolds, the viewer must face a few powerful scenes, that perhaps is not too far from reality. The first scene where a seemingly happily married Alice leaves the house in the middle of night to hide an empty bottle of vodka from her husband. And of course she had to do so, because she promised him never drink again. Second scene where you will certainly feel devastated is when an already drunk Alice slaps her daughter, demanding her to do her homework. But if alcohol had not took over her mind and patience, she would have known that her daughter already did her homework and there was no need to be so harsh. The third scene happens a minute after, when Alice collapses in front of her daughter while she was taking a bath. Those pretty disturbing signs made the couple to look deeper in their relationship to understand what went wrong, and why Alice uses alcohol as the way to escape the problem.

WHEN A MAN LOVES A WOMAN is a powerful drama with brilliant performances delivered by Andy Garcia and Meg Ryan. It’s about how one man endlessly loves a woman no matter in what shape she is. It is also about a woman, no matter how much she stoops, there is always a man in her life who cares about her more than himself. A man, who will follow her till the end and catch her every time she falls. But based on what you see, the approach he takes to fix the broken marriage was wrong. But in reality, what else could he do to protect her from ruining their lives, to let her fall? If your answer is yes, then most likely, you have forgotten the title of the film, WHEN A MAN LOVES A WOMAN. Falling from the rocks will never be an option.


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