You Can Count On Me

Review Date:
Director: Ken Lonergan
Writer: Ken Lonergan
Producers: B. DeFina, J. Hart, L. Meistrich, J. Sharp
Laura Linney
Mark Ruffalo
Rory Culkin
Matthew Broderick
A carefree brother comes back home to visit his morally upright single mom sister and decides to stay awhile. Their day-to-day goings-on is what fills our time together with brother essentially trying to “find himself” while making friends with her young son, and sister trying to figure out which fella she’d rather keep dating while simultaneously not losing her job at the bank. Slowly but surely, their respective traits begin to rub off on one another.
A small movie set in a small town delivers various big elements including top-notch performances from its two leads, extremely effective character development all around and a poignant message dipped with the importance of love, family, relationships and spirituality. This is obviously not a typical Hollywood picture and surely not for everyone, but definitely one to see for anyone who appreciates superior character studies, feels confused, overwhelmed or bored about their own life, and is curious about the familial foundation which supports this entire movie. This isn’t a very upbeat film. It does contain a handful of lighter moments, but is basically a movie that feels sort of somber all the way through but doesn’t ever really get boring. The force of the writing is the main reason for that, with the superior performances set forth by all, straddling in as a close second. Major kudos go out to Mark Ruffalo, who completely inhabits his role as the loose younger brother with the knack for getting into trouble, as well as Laura Linney, playing the full role of mother, sister, lover and employee to a tee. The excellent rapport between the two leads also makes you glad to be spending some time with them.

The film also offers a solid outing for Rory Culkin in a pivotal role of the son in the movie, and Matthew Broderick delivering yet another small but effective performance on his end (dude, it’s time to put films like GODZILLA and INSPECTOR GADGET behind you once and for all!). The film isn’t really about anything in particular, plot-wise that is. It moves from moment to moment, sort of like a “week in the life of” you or me. But the crux of the story is really simmering under the covers, the relationship between brother and sister, an emotional attachment that isn’t really discussed much in film nowadays. The two kids grow up as orphans and maintain different standards of living, one very opposite from the other. The truth is that neither one of them really knows exactly what they’re doing (perhaps because of the lack of parental guidance), but the love between them is never in doubt. This is one of those smaller pictures that I really love balancing off against those big, loud, smack-down Hollywood flicks. It’s insightful, it’s emotional and it actually means something! Okay, so I might not be selling this film as best as I could, but all I know is that it touched me with its solid performances, great insight and universal message. One to see.

(c) 2021 Berge Garabedian