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YOU CAN COUNT ON ME (R)
Paramount Classics
Official Site

Director: Kenneth Lonergan

Producers: Barbara De Fina, John Hart, Jeff Sharp, Larry Meistrich

Written by: Kenneth Lonergan

Cast: Laura Linney, Mark Ruffalo, Matthew Broderick, Rory Culkin, Jon Tenney

Rating: out of 5


Terry (Ruffalo) is the kind of aimless lay-about that we all know or have come into contact with at some point in our lives. He's a sweet guy with good intentions and no direction. His actions are muddled, albeit well-intentioned misfires but he occasionally redeems himself through some moment of kindness or by just being there to listen.

He comes back into his sister Sammy's (Linney) life at a moment when she needs someone to listen. Sammy's present-only-when-called boyfriend, Bob (Tenney), is good at taking her to bed but can't come up with much to say about anything else in her life. Her new boss, Brian (Broderick), is the kind of manager who listens to what a training manual has to say a lot more easily than he does to any of his employees. Her son, Rudy (the newest Culkin to hit the screens), is getting to the age where he's beginning to wonder about his absent father, despite Sammy's efforts to discourage his curiosity. And her minister (a cameo by writer/director Lonergan) meets her with more questions than answers.

So when Terry comes loping back to town to bum more money off his sister for another jam he's in, Sammy invites him to stay for a while at the house they've co-owned since being orphaned years before. What follows is much of what one might expect, but it's done with such panache and restraint that there's no confusing this for a Lifetime afternoon movie.

Ruffalo and Linney both give nuanced performances that discover the many different levels of Sammy and Terry through body language and speech. The supporting cast is uniformly solid and up to the task of supporting the two centers of the film.

Lonergan has crafted a great script and solidly directed it in a manner that one wouldn't have predicted possible after watching either of his previously produced screenplays (THE ADVENTURES OF ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE and ANALYZE THIS). He has managed, with the help of a great cast, to make a film that feels at once as familiar as an old shoe and yet also surprises you with its gentle insights about and sensitivities to familial bonds. It's rare that a film comes along that captures the story of a brother and sister relationship so well. Rarer still that a film makes you want to know the characters beyond what happens on the screen. This is a stunningly entertaining, character-driven drama that will stand up to repeat viewing. Take a friend, or better yet, a sibling.

-Jonpaul Guinn

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Itís worth a full-price ticket.

Itís worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...


Mike Doughty



none now
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