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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

You Can Count On Me (2000)


You can always depend on your doped up brother to bring some shock to your life.

The return of wild brother, Terry (Mark Ruffalo), is an unwelcome surprise to Sammy (Laura Linney), a young mother who is starting to cheat on her fiancé, Bob (Jon Tenney), with her boss, Brian (Matthew Broderick).

Writer/director Kenneth Lonergan is a dude I hear so much about considering he has only done two films in the last decade. Still though, I’m surprised that he isn’t a bigger name, especially after doing something like this.

What I like about his script is how it is a very honest script that shows what real relations between family is like. Every human emotion here doesn’t feel contrived or like they just rehearsed it, everybody reacts to each other the way that they normally would in real-life and it’s that kind of human honesty is what made me react to this flick the most. These are sad people, with sad lives, but they are all trying to get through it with one another and even if it may not work out to the best of their imaginations, they still somehow find ways to make good with what they have. This is a script that has some very smart moments with its drama and its emotions but its also very funny at certain points that you wouldn’t expect right away.

I also liked how Lonergan didn’t try to make us feel more for these characters than we already did by throwing us a bunch of sappy and cheesy moments that all emotional films like this try to snake us into. Since the film also shows the relationship between a long lost bro-bro and sis-sis, you would expect that there would be plenty of key scenes about their past and what happened so that the viewer would know more, however, the film doesn’t show this at all with the exception of the beginning, and it works. It’s quite impressive when films like this can do that because it lets us think about what happened through how they are now and it doesn’t try to spell anything out for us.

Lonergan is very good and skilled as a writer, no doubt about that but as a director, it seems like he may need a little working with. There is a lot of shots in this flick that shows these characters either just sitting, sleeping, watching TV, driving, or just randomly doing something that doesn’t pertain to the story and is just there because Lonergan wants to show us how unhappy these characters really can be. Some of these scenes seem very random and un-needed and one in particular with Broderick’s wife, seemed to go on a little too long for my liking. May sound like a weird complaint but there a couple of random scenes like this that didn’t really need to be here in the first place.  As good as the script may be too, everything still plays out the same way you would expect a drama like this to. It’s not as terribly disappointing as I may make it sound but it was still something I noticed right off the bat.

Laura Linney isn’t an actress that I usually like, because I thinks she plays the same character in almost any flick that she does but she’s very good here as Sammy. Sammy is one of those confused but very strong-willed women that just wants to do the right thing no matter what, but always seems to be dragged down by all of these mean people around her. Linney plays this character well because she shows what it’s like to be a woman who’s been through so much and just can’t seem to get a grasp on things but it’s not a one-note performance. Linney takes this character and give her a charming likability that is easy to relate to and understand right off the bat and I’m glad that she was nominated for an Oscar here.

Mark Ruffalo was also amazing in his role as her brother, Terry. Terry is one of those characters who has a lot of obvious problems but always tries to do the right thing no matter what. Problem is, he’s taken down by other people, just like his own sister. Ruffalo plays this role perfectly with just enough anger and heart to give us a full-rounded character that may be a little rough around the edges, but still is a good person no matter what he may mess up with. The scenes with him and Linney are all great and they feel like the an actual brother and sister that haven’t seen each other in so very long. Matthew Broderick is also good as Brian, Sammy’s boss, and he actually has a couple of funny scenes that work here even though his character may be a tad strange. Still, good performances all around here.

Consensus: Though some moments may not work, You Can Count on Me works mainly because of the great script from Lonergan that feels honest, insightful, and emotionally here, as well as the great performances from the whole cast.

7.5/10=Rental!!

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6 responses to “You Can Count On Me (2000)

  1. deerinthexenonarclights May 31, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    Glad to hear that you like it man, it’s one of my favorite (though admittedly not one of the best) indie films out there I think. Lonergan has a large history in theater and this may explain why his writing exceeded his direction in your mind, he is a veteran at one and an amateur at the other. I recommend checking out some of his stage stuff if you get the chance; his latest, Medieval Play is particularly hilarious and should be out in print soon enough.

  2. colincarman June 1, 2012 at 12:57 am

    Ruffalo and Linney at their finest, heart-wrenching with a naturalistic script by Lonergan. Write on man

  3. Chip June 4, 2012 at 12:09 am

    I thought the acting was great in this, but when it got done I stopped to think about the plot and to the best of my recollection, none of the characters ended up with any development. It seemed to be just a slice of life that resulted in no change to anyone. Perhaps I missed something.

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