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You Can Count On Me

Starring Laura Linney and Mark Ruffalo; Matthew Broderick, Jon Tenney and Rory Culkin
Written and Directed by Ken Lonergan

IN SHORT: No comment, explained below. [Rated R for language, some drug use and a scene of sexuality. 109 minutes]

Not that we're in the habit of making excuses, but when we saw You Can Count On Me, about a month before it's very limited release, we weren't knocked on our tails. This story, of a stable single mom Sammy (Laura Linney) her unstable brother Terry (Mark Ruffalo) who tends to disappear for months at a time and her completely incompetant new boss Brian (Matthew Broderick), didn't strike me as anything exceptional (with the sole note that a subplot involving a Linney-Broderick illicit tryst is very funny). Then again, at that time, we had been sitting through endless hours of junk and it is possible that we were too ragged out to enjoy this film. It's also possible that we were absolutely dead on in thinking that You Can Count On Me is nothing exceptional. There has been enough email and the studio is making a big enough push on it that we took a second look. It doesn't happen often, but one of the reasons we do watch as much "arthouse" stuff as we can -- despite knowing that most of it is dreadful FilmStudentThink junk -- is to find the stuff that is much better than the circuit to which it is condemned. So, with a number of newspaper ads citing You Can Count On Me as Best of the Year (all by critics who also cited Croupier, which was such a poorly made piece of arthouse bore you out of your mind junk that we didn't write it up) we took a deep breath and dove back in.

We still weren't as impressed as some of our colleagues, but the sit was much easier this time out. You Can Count On Me is a very quiet story with characters that are well developed and don't really go very far in their individual character arcs. Samantha (Linney) and Terry Prescott (Ruffalo) have gone separate ways as adults after surviving a traumatic childhood. While Sammy has burned through her "wild period," which left her with a now 8 year old son, Rudy (Rory Culkin), Terry is a wanderer. He's perpetually broke and, when we first meet him, he's facing the prospect of being a father. Needing money, he takes the bus from Worcester, Massachusettes to upstate New York to get as much money as he can from his sister. It's not especially relevant to the story that follows but we can all wager good money that the cash he needs is more than likely intended to "fix" the problem, and not to pay for child care.

Sammy is happy to have her brother around, since he's been missing for month. Rudy, who has no male role model, is pushed out of his shell by his rollicking uncle. A bit of the wildness rubs off, or perhaps rekindles what was once present, and Sammy finds herself in the middle of a fling with the last person she should be sleeping with -- she has a potential fiance on the hook, not that she was looking, and the wildness has its effect on that potential future.

For all that goes on in this story, and there's more than enough to mark it as better than the average arthouse flick, You Can Count On Me is still a very small story.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to You Can Count On Me, he would have paid...


In a well filled theater, the women were sniffling. The men couldn't wait to get out. Your results may vary.

amazon com link Click to buy films by Ken Lonergan
Click to buy films starring Laura Linney
Click to buy films starring Matthew Broderick

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