You Can Count On Me
Directed by Kenneth Lonergan
Starring Laura Linney, Mark Ruffalo, Rory Culkin, Matthew Broderick
In far-off upstate New York, Samantha (Linney) is a single mom with a crappy bank job. Of course, she really lives in Hollywood and her house is an immaculate 1894 Foursquare farmhouse filled with antiques that would make Martha Stuart drool. She’s an orphan to boot, and her brother Terry (Ruffalo) is a good-hearted drifter who wanders into town and bonds with her eight-year-old son, Rudy Jr. (Culkin). Rudy Sr. is some fuckhead who lives a few miles and two galaxies away, and is the sort of loser Sammy prefers. While Terry’s teaching Rudy Jr. pool hustling and Busted 101, Mom’s having an affair with her boss (Broderick) and considering a marriage proposal from some nice looking nebbish she met at the gas station. Sorry, I can’t remember his real or stage name. He’s that bland. Sammy and Terry eventually have it out over the toilet lid or some minor difficulty, and Terry’s off to Worchester, Mass to pursue his dreams. So basically, everybody has the sort of mildly screwed up but not really horrible lives most people live.
And there lies the problem. Everyone is basically nice and what tension arises is only mildly interesting, sort of like flipping into a Spanish soap you’ve never seen just to check out the fake boobs. Samantha is endearingly and permanently nice. Terry means well, makes some minor goofs, and get thrown in the slammer for the odd bar fight. Rudy II is well behaved, clean, respectful, and cute as a button, and even the biggest complaint you can lodge against Samantha’s jerkwad boss, besides cheating on his six months preggers wife, is his insistence everyone use the same color palette on their computer monitors. It’s Small Town America, and no one is even beating their wife. Bore – ring.
But all is not lost. Lonergan plays a wonderful support role as Sam’s ultra wishy-washy priest who doesn’t like to emphasize the sin aspect of adultery and fornication. And the cinematography makes you want to move to the Catskills. And only two people die and there’s only on fistfight and Rudy wins $100 at his first pool hustle. And did I mention Samantha’s house? To die for.