Wino No More
Whilst her family holidayed in Vermont, Lois (Winona Ryder) met Bill Wilson (Barry Pepper) and whilst he was 4 years younger they got married just before he set off to serve in WWI. On his return married life was good but Bill's job working in the financial market leads to him drinking more and more whilst Lois suffered a series of miscarriages which just makes matters worse as his drinking gets out of control. No matter what she did to try and help Bill stop drinking it was never enough with nothing worked until he almost kills himself through his alcoholism.
Like many, I have heard of AA as in Alcoholics Anonymous but up until watching "When Love Is Not Enough: The Lois Wilson Story" I had not heard of Bill Wilson one of the co-founders or his wife Lois who founded Al-Anon a support group for friends and family of alcoholics. After watching this made for TV movie, well I now know about the Wilsons and the struggles they faced due to Bill's own alcohol addiction which threatened to destroy him and their marriage. But I don't believe I have watched a true retelling of their story. I say that because other reviews of "When Love Is Not Enough: The Lois Wilson Story" mention that things are left out such as Bill's womanizing so in the end this movie ends up feeling like a period drama about a couple dealing with alcoholism rather than a biopic.
Here is the thing about "When Love Is Not Enough: The Lois Wilson Story" and what is essentially wrong with the movie. The first hour focuses on Bill and Lois as he becomes an alcoholic and she struggles to deal with it pushed to the end of her limits through his irresponsible behaviour. Now in fairness their situation is part of the bigger picture, it is what started them on the journey to founding both AA and Al-Anon but by spending so long showing the ups and downs of their marriage it moves it into the realms of just another movie about alcoholism.
The final half an hour is where for me "When Love Is Not Enough: The Lois Wilson Story" becomes what it should be about and that is both Bill and Lois focusing on helping those who are alcoholics as well as the friends and families. It is such a shame that the movie is out of balance as the second part of the movie has enough going on to fill an hour which would have made it so more interesting and entertaining. And I am not just on about the programs which they create but also the further stress which Lois faced especially the fear that financial stress would cause Bill to fall off the wagon.
There are other issues with "When Love Is Not Enough: The Lois Wilson Story" and as I mentioned it appears that some of the more unsavoury facts about Bill have been left out meaning it's not a completely accurate representation of their story. But in an almost expected TV movie sort of way the toning down of the drama makes it easy to watch and there is always a place for movies like this. What that means is that Winona Ryder and Barry Pepper deliver characters who are watchable, they may not be entirely believable with a lack of chemistry but for a TV movie they are good performances.
What this all boils down to is that "When Love Is Not Enough: The Lois Wilson Story" is a movie of two parts; an interestng drama about alcoholism and then the story of how AA and Al-Anon came to be. It is out of balance but it's also a cut above the usual thing you see in TV movies.