You Can Count On Me Review

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Small town single mom Sammy is overjoyed when her beloved kid brother, troubled drifter Terry, returns home. But her carefully ordered life is upturned as Terry’s influence affects her relationship with her sheltered child Rudy, triggers a passionate flin


Playwright Kenneth Lonergan’s fans and colleagues in New York made this film possible, from Martin Scorsese and Barbara De Fina playing godparents as executive producers, to Broderick graciously joining the movie while starring on Broadway. Their admiration of him is well-founded, with the film wowing last year’s Sundance Festival (where it scooped Grand Jury Prize and the screenwriting award).

Linney, absurdly underused since The Truman Show, and Ruffalo, now designated hot stuff, are so good inhabiting their roles as reliable sister Sammy and devil-may-care brother Terry, it’s easy to forget that a lot of wit, humanity and insight is in the script they’re working from. Indeed, the entire cast is perfectly real, including yet another cunning little Culkin (Rory, the youngest, as the smothered Rudy).

Seldom are brother-sister relationships really explored in film, and this one reverberates with truth and understanding. Orphaned in childhood, Sammy and Terry have a particularly strong bond, one which she jealously yanks and one which makes him chafe. These siblings are fierce and funny, wringing every nuance of love, affection, resentment, exasperation, humour, anger and acceptance out of their dynamic.

Lonergan himself (who scripted Analyse This) appears as Sammy’s minister, and although he has ‘I’m the writer-director taking a bow’ stamped all over him, he’s given himself such a juicy dialogue with the scornful Terry that you allow him the moment.

Ruffalo’s endearing and charming well-meaning ne’er-do-well promises more good things from him, while Linney’s eloquent physicality and subtly complete characterisation confirm her as one of the most intelligent and interesting actresses around.

Cinematically it’s no more remarkable than many a small, independent, character-driven American story. But wordsmith Lonergan’s people, prose and ‘everyday’ situations are really engaging and he articulates with perception an individual’s need to depend o