"Why directing your own script isn't always a great idea."
Every so often there comes a film that is good, sometimes very good, but could be better with one small change ... a tidy cutting of about 20-25 minutes out of the film. Many, many, many directors fall victim to their own hand when writing AND directing.In this case Kenneth Lonergan is to blame with YOU CAN COUNT ON ME, a good, though easily improvable movie about two siblings who lost their parents when they were very, very young and now that they are all grown up are still struggling with their losses. Lonergan falls under the “every word I write is gold category,” a big danger when directing from your own script. Cut! Cut! Cut!
Laura Linney plays older sister Sammy (Samantha) who can’t help but mother her hopeless and going-nowhere brother Terry (Mark Ruffalo) who moved out of the town they both grew up in only to be overwhelmed with what the big, bad world has to offer him. Sammy wishes her brother would come back to live in Scottsville where she is raising her son Rudy (Rory Culkin) alone and in the very house they used to live in with their parents. When Terry comes home for an unexpected visit the two find they have grown apart and grown up in very different ways. And finally coming to terms with the death of their parents will be a unique journey for both of them.
The first part of COUNT flows smoothly with a good rhythm mostly but at times one may feel the urge to yell at the screen, “I got it already.” Lonergan insists on overplaying some of his scenes to a full 10 or 15 minutes. Points are made clear early on and yet Lonergan has no faith or trust in his audiences' ability to “get it.” He continuously uses the older sister trying to save her younger brother theme into the ground. It’s too bad because the film holds some very good writing and acting.Most impressive is little Rory Culkin – the latest and youngest of the Culkin family actors - and Ruffalo who is wonderful as the immature brother who treats his 8-year-old nephew as if he were his equal. Also Matthew Broderick is great fun bringing some much needed life and energy to every scene he’s in.-- Pamela Harland