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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 29.79%
Average: 17.02%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 2.13%

8 reviews, 46 user ratings

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You Can Count On Me
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Greg Muskewitz

"You sure can count on it!"
5 stars

"You Can Count on Me" isn't the easiest film to write about. Words can't do it full justice. It's definitely a mature, adult oriented film that gives a serious examination to a sister and brother exteriorly different but interiorly connected, and the impact upon a child. It's a deft and endearing multi-character study intensified by excellent performances and a human hand by writer and first-time director Kenneth Lonergan.

Living in Scottsville, a dullish small city tucked away in upper New York is Sammy (Laura Linney) and her 8-year-old son Rudy, Jr. (Rory Culkin, youngest brother of Maucauly). She works at a small-time bank which was just assigned a prink-of-a-manager, Brian (Matthew Broderick) and things aren't exactly fruitful. Then Sammy and Rudy get word that her nomadic brother Terry (Mark Ruffalo) will be coming their way. We know it's to borrow money.

Yet once Terry reveals his intentions and Sammy gets over them, things turn out pretty well. For awhile. After all, Sammy really does care intensely for her brother and wants to protect him. In the meantime, Terry and Rudy have developed a bond, a fatherly bond --one absent from the father who took off before he was born.

Maybe on the surface, "You Can Count on Me" sounds typical or banal, but it isn't. It's a salubrious piece of Americana much in the lineage of David Lynch's "The Straight Story." Yeah, it's a human interest piece, and one of the largest benefits is that the humans, or characters concerned here are all interesting. Everyone here are pretty much unknowns, or lesser knowns, with the exception of Broderick (who seems to be extirpating more serious, challenging roles as with "Election") and due to that, it serves to lend this an unabashed credibility. "You Can Count on Me" is a thoughtful, involving film.

One of the consistent ironies is that with the title, because here you have people with responsibility who keep shrugging it off, but not directly or purposely at each other. It kind of becomes a running gag, especially with the Post-It notes at Sammy's work. By the end, the availability of love, emotion and hope is what's prominent and being offered: they're there for one another ("It's good to know wherever I am, no matter what shit I'm in, I'll have you rooting for me at home"). Some of there actions may be rash, not thought out, or brazen, but they are done trying to consider the limit of their best intention (the sex Sammy indulges/engages in, Terry bringing Rudy, Jr. to meet Rudy, Sr., Terry bringing Rudy to a bar to play pool, etc.).

Linney is a prettier, but less glamorous version of Jennifer Aniston, as well as a far more realistic and also a better actress. (Linney also has a little bit of Mira Sorvino too.) She's palpable, calculated and precise. Ruffalo reminded me a lot of Ray Romano from TV's "Everyone Loves Raymond." He was funny, unresentingly irksome, flippant, and confused all at the same time. He too, (like Affleck in "Bounce") is suffering from an existential crisis, but more along the lines of "Where's my place?" Ruffalo reminded me a lot of Ethan Hawke's Troy in "Reality Bites," but Ruffalo was still able to obtain a likability. Culkin was cute and mostly stoic. Lonergan made sure not to make him too precocious or pretentious (thank you!) and it was such a relief to see a child in a non-manipulative role. It just felt real, like a real child would be. Broderick in the other hand, didn't seem real at all. More of an overstated and acrimonious expanditure from "Election." He sort of floundered, but was simple flimsy comedic relief. Broderick has never really handled drama that well, like in "Infinity," because he lacks the ability to come off "real", or "realistic." I just don't buy him like that. Gaby Hoffmann, with maybe three minutes on screen, didn't look good at all. She wasn't supposed to, but even underneath that, she still didn't look good. Hoffmann hasn't looked the same since "Volcano."

Lonergan (who has successfully penned "Analyze This" but not so successfully "The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle") maintains a skillful, orderly direction that brings out the positive in his work. He's by far more interested in making these characters into people, and builds structurally on it. The only small detraction is the pacing that tends to over-extend itself occasionally. When you have a slow paced movie (like "The Straight Story") you at least have to keep the people moving in a forward direction instead of sitting. But if that's the only complaint, I'd say that Lonergan and company have accomplished something substantial and will make it take off. Nothing is more appreciated than the straightforward direction, the lack of caked-on style and overall simplicity displayed by Lonergan. It's called maturity.

Final Verdict: A-.

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originally posted: 11/21/00 09:25:20
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User Comments

4/04/12 David Hollingsworth Intelligent, uncliched look at sibling rivalry 5 stars
6/05/07 Bitchflaps Admittedly well made, but overdeliberate drama didn't hold my attention. 3 stars
2/02/07 adam khan fantastic 5 stars
3/01/06 sbpat21 a perfect movie 5 stars
1/12/06 tatum Very good, realistic look at dysfunction 4 stars
5/05/05 Indrid Cold A subtle, intelligent drama; not exactly edge-of-your-seat entertainment. 3 stars
2/21/05 James Wood Very realistic quiet film with outstanding performances 5 stars
5/19/04 Lisa Brost One of the Best Movies I've Ever Seen! 5 stars
3/22/04 daveupho stunning writing + superb performances = awesome film 5 stars
1/23/04 Brendon One of the best films made. Unforgettable! 5 stars
9/07/03 R.W. Welch Existential family drama, convincingly done. 4 stars
7/08/03 Jack Sommersby A near-perfect masterpiece. Linney is extraordinary -- and so is the film. 5 stars
6/01/03 JoeSco Very Good - Laura Linney is excellent and should be an A-List actress on looks and talent 4 stars
1/01/03 Andy Todes finest american film in last 10 years ... easily 5 stars
11/27/02 swahid malook the best film i have seen in a very long time 5 stars
6/14/02 Simeon Briggs Pure high quality, pacing, character development all of the highest standard 5 stars
5/22/02 Phil M. Afficianado Engaging and "real" --- almost perfect, but the "boss affair" didn't have the ring of truth 4 stars
1/24/02 Paco Quiet, mature film. Heartbreaking, funny, and real. 5 stars
1/06/02 daniboy really enjoyable little film 5 stars
12/07/01 swahid malook it was the best film i had ever seen for along time since mac films 5 stars
10/01/01 David Swinton Great storyline and excellent acting (though can be slow in places) Go see it soon... 5 stars
9/27/01 SJKelley Well acted, well written, engaging. 5 stars
9/19/01 Jim Renwick To many this would be boring but it is simply a very good story on relationships 4 stars
8/18/01 G absolutely boooooringggggg 1 stars
8/07/01 Pierce Lanson A most remarkable unremarkable movie. Laura is extraordinarily beautiful 5 stars
8/07/01 Norm DePlume For fans of psychbabble, the film provides a testbook case of Adult Children/ACOA Syndrome 5 stars
7/13/01 bobbuttons i really enjoyed it 4 stars
7/07/01 Reini Urban The best "major" 2000. Only "Eureka" beat it. 5 stars
7/05/01 Sue Takes a good look at sibling relationships 4 stars
7/04/01 Monday Morning Loved Laura Linney. As for story, too many issues felt unresolved at end. 4 stars
7/03/01 The Bomb 69 good but overrated, solid story and performances, ending was weak though 4 stars
5/13/01 kenstillman ken lonergan hates all the current clichés I hate and avoids every single one of them 5 stars
4/12/01 Jay By far the best film I've seen all year. 5 stars
4/03/01 Kirsten So very true. Love, love, love this film. 5 stars
2/20/01 puckfreak Wait for video 3 stars
2/12/01 Jake Excellent film. A refreshing change from the mainstream. Great cast and story. 5 stars
2/07/01 Angela the most amazing movie that I've ever seen --- I went to the theatres 4 times! 5 stars
1/30/01 janelle see it. you WILL like it. 5 stars
1/11/01 Katsat Very real, touching. Linney has star quality--a prettier, more appealing Helen Hunt 5 stars
12/30/00 Charles Linney & Ruffalo convincingly depict the love/hate tension of sibling relationships 5 stars
12/17/00 Politicsman A good indie in a crappy year does not make this awesome 3 stars
12/17/00 Angus moorehead Now, people who can actually act. Mel Gibson should learn from this movie 5 stars
11/28/00 vitamin_D not one to whip out "fucking awesome" -- this is solid writing, good acting 4 stars
11/27/00 cathyz wonderful, funny, totally engaging 5 stars
11/26/00 lissa hugely affecting--a totally original movie about everyday life 5 stars
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  10-Nov-2000 (R)
  DVD: 26-Jun-2001


  05-Jul-2001 (M)

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