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You Can Count on Me

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: You Can Count on Me

Starring: Laura Linney, Matthew Broderick
Director: Ken Lonergan
Rated: R
RunTime: 109 Minutes
Release Date: November 2000
Genre: Drama

*Also starring: Mark Ruffalo, Rory Culkin, Ken Lonergan, Jon Tenney

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Review by Susan Granger
3½ stars out of 4

If you enjoy literate, intimate dramas, rich in texture, this is the film for you. In a small, rural town in upstate New York, a petulant, irritable but good-hearted stoner/drifter (Mark Ruffalo) comes home to borrow money from his church-going sister (Laura Linney), a single mother with an eight year-old son (Rory Culkin). Their parents were killed in a car crash when she was a teenager, so she virtually raised her younger brother. Writer Kenneth Lonergan ("Analyze This," "Rocky & Bullwinkle"), making his directorial debut, is less concerned with plot than with his theme of trust and his complex characters, particularly their dialogue. Their words are an awkward condensation of how they feel and what they think they should feel, what they should say. That's what subtext is all about. And Lonergan's meticulous care includes the supporting roles: Jon Tenney as the sister's occasional beau and Matthew Broderick as her bullying new boss at the bank, an uptight, married man with whom she has a disastrous affair. You can spot the perceptive Lonergan himself as the laid-back pastor who asks, "Do you feel your life is important?" Eventually, of course, both siblings must re-evaluate their lives and their relationships. Mark Ruffalo and Laura Linney deliver subtle, terrific performances, as do the rest of the cast except, perhaps, Matthew Broderick who resorts to rigidity. Using Loretta Lynn's "The Other Woman," amidst Lesley Barber's classical music, is a delicious touch. My only quibble is that, visually, it's slow-moving, resembling a play that was filmed. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "You Can Count on Me" is a multi-layered, melancholy 9, both challenging and intriguing for mature moviegoers.

Copyright 2000 Susan Granger

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