You Can Count on Me

Lovely chamber piece about a single mom (Laura Linney) living in upstate New York and the men in her life, specifically her son (Rory Culkin, Macauley's younger brother), her boss (Matthew Broderick), and especially her troubled brother (Mark Ruffalo), whose return to the empty family home – their parents were killed in a car crash when the siblings were children – opens up a lot of wounds, old and new.

Don't be fooled by the feel-good sound of the film's title: You Can Count on Me is an unsentimental, keenly-felt drama that examines the tenuousness of family ties, especially when weighed upon by the years of abandonment and rootlessness set off by the tragic loss of one's parents. In fact, I'd have to say that this is more or less a perfect film: the performances are superb across the board; the characters are fully realized; Lonergan's writing and direction has a pure, unselfconscious warmth; the story is intelligent and emotionally real; hell, even the country songs on the soundtrack are good!

So while this film didn't quite haunt me as more flawed but more unusual films have in the past, I can't imagine it not having universal appeal. If you want to experience that rare treat of a thoughtful, meaningful night at the movies, then rush out to see You Can Count on Me. It's the kind of film I wish I'd made, which is just about the highest praise I can offer.