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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 Eugene Novikov

"Wanna smoke some pot?" "No! Why, you got some?"
4 stars

"You Can Count on Me" is really the essense of the "arthouse" movie: it doesn't have a hook. There's nothing in the plot description or the cast list that would make any reasonable person want to run out and see it. Its success, therefore, depends fully on word-of-mouth, and that is where this little American movie has come through in spades. From the time of its debut in Sundance to its nationwide release almost 10 months later, positive buzz has been spreading like wildfire. Now, the film's considered a dark horse in the Oscar race and, even with extremely high expectations, it does not disappoint.

Ken Lonergan's directorial debut begins on a tragic note: a car crash that kills a married couple, leaving their two children -- Sammy and her younger brother Terry -- orphaned. Cut to present day. Sammy (Laura Linney) is all grown up, a single mother with a young boy named Rudy (Rory Culkin) and a solid job at a local bank branch. Her new boss (Matthew Broderick) is a jerk who refuses to let her leave work to pick up her son from the bus stop and take him to the babysitter.

Terry (Mark Ruffalo) and Sammy have all but lost touch over the years. Terry's life is still directionless; he wonders from place to place doing odd jobs with no clear idea where he is heading. Suddenly, he calls Sammy and tells her that he's coming to visit. Not knowing what to think, she meets him at a local diner and quickly deduces that he has come for money and is only to planning to stay a few days at most.

The story takes a few twists and turns after that, and while You Can Count on Me is hardly plot-based, I don't feel like revealing them all the same. The interesting part about the film isn't how the discord between Terry and Sammy came about -- it's implied, but we're spared the lurid details -- but rather in how these two markedly different people go about salvaging an important relationship that's never quite worked out the way they would have liked. Both try their best to make amends without compromising their respective lifestyles, which puts them on an eventual crash course that doesn't culminate in the way we expect.

Laura Linney, excellent in supporting roles such as Truman's wife and the prosecutor in Primal Fear, has to carry this movie and her performance is amazing; her character is assertive, sometimes aggressive but always subtle. There's no black and white in this movie, no right or wrong, no clearly defined definitions of "good" and "bad." The movie's too smart for that; it knows that real people and relationships aren't that simple. Linney's performance reflects the complexities of Lonergan's screenplay.

Less showy but just as impressive is Mark Ruffalo, who is also in one of the first starring roles of his career. As the perpetual slacker Terry, we get the impression that Ruffalo is playing himself which means that either a) he's playing himself or b) he transformed into the role so completely, he gave the impression of playing himself. Either way, he deserves a piece of the Oscar buzz pie that Laura Linney is getting.

You Can Count on Me
is an understated gem, a mature movie that actually requires an attention span to watch. It's graced with great performances, strikingly true dialogue and avoidance of just about every cliche films like these usually suffer from. Like Shakespeare in Love two years ago, I would not be surprised if this little critical darling would up conquering the Oscars in Y2K.

(Review reprinted from

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 03/06/07 00:57:30
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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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