Sammy and her younger brother Terry are quietly watching television when their parents are run over by a truck. Kenneth Lonergan’s You Can Count On Me wonderfully details how this dreadful moment would retard the lives of the older Sammy (Laura Linney) and Terry (Mark Ruffalo). Down on his luck and living with a loser girlfriend, Terry sweeps into town in order to live with Sammy. Now living in close quarters, the brother and sister are forced to deal with long ignored emotions. Everything these characters strive for is overshadowed by the loss of their parents. Longergan leisurely traces their rituals of denial; indeed, their pain is so buried that they hardly even mention their parents’ accident. Sammy lives alone with her son Rudy (Rory Culkin) and shelters him from his real father. Terry becomes very close to his nephew and assumes the role of surrogate father. He takes this instinctual need to be a role model to Rudy a little to far by introducing Rudy to his deadbeat father (Josh Lucas). It’s a noble deed that’s painfully informed by Terry’s own need for a father. If Terry thinks Sammy’s life is boring and Sammy thinks Terry has no responsibilities, Longergan dutifully subverts their narrow world-views: he takes on Terry’s frequent flights of fancy and contemplates Sammy’s inability to settle on the right man. The film is visually unexciting though Lonergan’s revelation of simple truths is key here. In the end, it all comes back to the film’s titular platitude: this is Lonergan’s trip down a familiar road where lives will forever be emotionally and inextricably bound.
- Kenneth Lonergan
- Kenneth Lonergan
- Laura Linney, Mark Ruffalo, Matthew Broderick, Rory Culkin
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