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Parents' Guide to

When a Man Loves a Woman

By Renee Longstreet, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Exceptional tale of a family in crisis; cursing, alcoholism.

Movie R 1994 125 minutes
When a Man Loves a Woman Poster Image

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Telling a timeless story, this film is a heartrending blend of solid writing, insightful direction, and wonderful performances, plus an all-around superior production. While much of the resolution in When a Man Loves a Woman relies on the well-worn doctrine of Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon, the emotionality of that resolution is powerful and inspiring. So inspiring, in fact, that one can forgive the few missteps (a few pat scenes with Alice's parents, an ending that takes place in an awkward setting, and the fact that it's somewhat long). Both Meg Ryan and Andy Garcia are in top form. Ryan proves she can be more than America's sweetheart; in turn, she's vulnerable, appalling, and formidable. Garcia's arc is played out simply but devastatingly. The two young children, played by Tina Majorino and Mae Whitman (both currently respected adult working actresses) are sheer magic. Interesting to note is that the film is one of Philip Seymour Hoffman's earliest roles and that former Saturday Night Live comic, now Minnesota senator, Al Franken, was a co-writer of the script (with award-winner Ron Bass); he also shows up as Garcia's co-pilot. Highly recommended for thoughtful teens and up.

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