When Love is Not Enough
Published 12 April 2012
When Love is Not Enough (2010, TV Movie for Hallmark Channel)
An excellent title! It causes one to pause and think. Hollywood often gives these types of stories a twist to ensure that ‘love' will conquer all. How can love not be enough? In a day when people equate love for a panacea for anything, and believe ‘all we need is love'; this is indeed a very challenging story.
When Love is Not Enough won best TV Movie at the 2011 PRISM Awards (for accurate depictions of mental health and substance abuse). It is a Hallmark Hall of Fame film and features well-known Hollywood personality Winona Ryder, and character actor Barry Pepper in the lead roles of Lois and Bill Wilson. An earlier Hallmark film, My Name is Bill W. explores the life and times of Bill Wilson, the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).
Most people will be very familiar with AA, and would be aware that is has elements of a Christian foundation and history. The film highlights Bill's early pledges on the Bible, his failings and constant requests for forgiveness, and illustrates his early Christian experiences. Many AA meetings are today held on church premises. I regularly meet AA members near the ACC Office as there are three meetings held each week in our host church (Newtown Mission). (Note: I am not intending to discuss or comment on the on-going questions of spirituality and the various issues that have arisen from the early years of AA).
A smaller number of people would be aware of Al-Anon, a group providing support and counsel for the families of alcoholics. Lois Wilson was the wife of Bill Wilson (known as Bill W.), the co-founder of AA with Dr Bob (Smith). Lois realised early on that Bill's drinking did not consume only him, and saw how families often exhibited symptoms and developed significant problems arising from their love and support of the alcoholic member. The foundation for this group can be seen in the following exchange from an early meeting time.
Lois Wilson: No it would be no trouble, really. Erm I could make some tea, I, I could actually use someone to talk to tonight.
Anne Bingham: We came all the way from Westchester County. I'm Anne Bingham.
Lois Wilson: Anne, I'm Lois Wilson.
Anne Bingham: If I don't drive him here I can't guarantee that he'll make it so I make the drive.
Lois Wilson: For years I used to hide the keys from my husband. I was afraid he'd kill himself or someone else.
Anne Bingham: Exactly
Informal family support groups started from about 1939 with the wives often meeting while their husbands were at their AA meeting, but it was not until 1951 that Lois and Anne founded Al-Anon. Today Al-Anon has over 24 000 groups in 115 countries and also works with teenagers and drinking. For more information see: http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/australia/
It is interesting to consider again the overall context of this film - love. Lois often felt resentment during the development of AA, especially toward the male members of AA, because she felt her strong love and commitment should have solved his problem. This of course does not tell the whole story about change in a person's life, but the film helps one to understand that we cannot change people even if you love unconditionally and give them all your support. I was often reminded about Jesus' parables of grace and forgiveness, and how he taught us to pray: ‘Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.'
Available from Heritage HM Film Distribution or your Christian retailer.
License to Kill (1984, TV Movie)
Noting the quote in my review above, I thought it was helpful to highlight this film that tells the story of the death of a teenage girl by a habitual drunken-driver. The film focuses on the reactions of the key figures, including the husband and wife of the daughter killed, and the husband who killed the daughter and his conflicted wife. While matters of faith feature in only a small way, the film provides an opportunity for people to consider how they would react themselves when such a tragedy occurs, and especially to consider how their love for their partner helps or hinders their addiction. It is also an early film for prominent actor Denzel Washington (The Book of Eli). He plays the over-worked public prosecutor. The film was inspired by true events in the late 1970s and early 1980s, an era that witnessed the introduction of a range of legislative initiatives in the USA designed to reduce drink-driving, particularly among teenagers.