Touching Honesty -
Loyd E. Eskildson | Phoenix, AZ. | 04/12/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
""You Can Count On Me" was made in 2000 and is pleasing to watch and be drawn in, It is about two siblings that are as different as night and day, but deeply connected through a tragic loss of their parents as children. Sammy (Laura Linny) was always there for her rebellious younger brother Terry (Mark Fuffalo). Overall there is an interesting story, but the movie is primarily a character study of the conservative, single mother Sammy and her drifter brother Terry.
Sammy works as a lending officer at a small bank in Scottsdale, New York, the quiet hometown she was born and raised in. Terry sends her a letter that he will be visiting her after six months of not hearing anything from him and two years since the last visit. Terry is desperate for money and visits her and his nephew Rudy who are excited about seeing him again. Terry asks Sammy for money to help his girlfriend, which he mails to her immediately. However, when he calls to let her know the money is in the mail and he is returning, he finds out she attempted suicide so decides to stay longer than he planned. He forms a friendship with Rudy who is curious about his father, since Sammy only gives him vague and brief descriptions. They try new things together and face some facts of life about Rudy's run-a-way father.
While Terry and Rudy are spending time together, Sammy rekindles her relationship with an old boyfriend, who proposes to her after a short time. She also starts a fling with her married boss, who has a pregnant wife. Things liven up during the time Terry is in town, but it begins to be too much for Sammy and there is discord between her and Terry. Partly because she asks her minister to give Terry advice he did not ask for and his unreliable ways.
Terry and Rudy have grown closer and after a day of fishing, but he pushes his sister's limits with a visit to Rudy, Senior in Auburn who becomes upset and a fight ensues. Terry gets arrested but no charges are filed so he returns home to his sister, Sammy. Sammy is upset and asks him to move out, which he does the next day.
At first the separation is heart-wrenching. They love each other but are entirely different in their outlook on life. Finally, before Terry gets back on the bus, they reconcile, realizing they have deep, loving roots, but accept that they understand each other's life styles.
"You Can Count On Me" draws you in and keeps you interested because of the touching sweet honesty of the story and amazing actors doing their best work.
A fascinating exploration into the effects of emotional trau
A. Vander Meulen | Boston, MA USA | 04/09/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Nominated for Academy Awards in 2000 for Best Actress and Best Screenplay, "You Can Count on Me" is a story about a sister "Sammy" (Laura Linney) and brother "Terry" (Mark Ruffalo) who are seeking to live with the emotional scars they carry as a result of childhood traumas. I use the plural "traumas" here because subtle hints throughout the film (even in the very first scene) make it clear that issues other than the sudden death of their parents when they were kids contributed to their woundedness later in life.
The film is a rich and complex study of the costs of trauma and abuse, and how the scars they cause stay with us throughout our lives, impacting how we view ourselves and how we view, treat and interact-with friends (and acquaintances).
The center of the film is on the "Big Sister" (Sammy) in the story, and shows us that, despite trying very hard to give the appearance of being a successful, disciplined, put-together person, is an emotional mess: engaging in self destructive behaviors, displacing her own internal pain and anger onto others, and refusing to admit she has problems. Laura Linney's performance in this role earned her an Oscar nomination, and rightfully so: she does an excellent job of portraying her character realistically and subtley, avoiding the trap of becoming trite or preachy in her characterization of "Sammy".
Her brother (Terry) is equally a mess, but in some ways is healthier: admitting he's a mess, and showing he's capable of emotional growth and healing by the time the film ends. A particularly good scene is his interaction with his sister's inept Pastor (portrayed by the film's writer and director, Kenneth Lonergan). It becomes clear during the course of this scene that Terry is a much more intelligent, self-aware and thoughtful person than he normally portrays himself to be. Mark Ruffalo, in this role, strikes a great balance between the troubled, devil-may-care attitude towards life and others that you expect; yet he is also sensitive and caring. You see his character evolving over the course of the film as he learns that the lives of those around him matter, too.
This film seeks to portray complex and subtle emotions and interactions between its characters. Kenneth Lonergan appears to be very aware of the sources and costs of emotional trauma, and yet was able to portray the subject, in this his first major film, with sensitivity and light humor. In the end, his work leaves us with multiple messages. The one I will remember is his message of hope: that no matter how painful or traumatic one's past is, you can overcome it.
Well worth watching for those who like emotionally complex characters in interesting dramas: definitely a five star film!"
Pairing two wonderful actors
Jon Hunt | Old Greenwich, Ct. USA | 08/08/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Laura Linney has been a favorite of mine ever since her days in "Tales of the City" and in "You Can Count on Me" she extends and broadens her appeal as Sammy, the overwrought mother, employee and sister to a man whose place in society has not yet been carved. Mark Ruffalo, in his breakout role as Linney's wayward brother Terry, gives an edgy and sensitive performance and it's no wonder his career took off after this film.
What I particularly enjoyed about "You Can Count on Me" is the depth of devotion that both actors have for each other in their respective roles. Terry lives on the verge of defeat but even though he is aware of his shortcomings, tries in his own way to make things right with Sammy through befriending her son, Rudy. Sammy's being torn in all directions should make her take flight, but her internal thermostat is set just right as she flits between job, lover(s), mother and loyal sibling. Linney and Ruffalo may seem to be an odd pairing but it is one that works beautifully. I highly recommend "You Can Count on Me"."