Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


YOU CAN COUNT ON ME (2000). Writer/Director: Kenneth Lonergan.

"You showed up!"

Brother and sister Sammy (Laura Linney) and Terry (Mark Ruffalo) have been close since they lost their parents to a car accident when they were children. Sammy has stayed in the small town of their birth with her young son Rudy (Rory Culkin) after his father took off for parts unknown, while Terry is a bit of a vagabond with no fixed address and not much of a future. Sammy has a nice boyfriend who wants to marry her (Jon Tenney) but drifts into a relationship with her married boss (Matthew Broderick) at a bank. Then there's a useless priest who tries to council both brother and sister, the former of whom has no use for religion [although the film isn't necessarily implying that this is the cause of his more free-spirited, irresponsible nature]. You Can Count On Me is well-acted by the entire cast, including little Culkin, but it's under-developed, and seems more the product of a mentality raised on sitcoms than serious film or theater. Some of the developments are not only predictable, but unconvincing, and the supporting characters lack dimension. The admittedly moving wind-up probably made the teary audience and critics think the movie is much better than it actually is. Still, it has its moments. A haunting image is Rudy's little hands clinging to his uncle with the highly uncertain future.

Verdict: Serious drama for the sitcom generation. **1/2.

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