At last month’s Academy Awards, writer-director Kenneth Lonergan had two Oscar nominations (Best Director & Best Original Screenplay) for “Manchester by the Sea.” For this month’s Movie Night, we’ll journey back 17 years to his first Oscar-nominated script. This was also the film that earned Laura Linney the first of her three Best Actress nominations.
“You Can Count on Me” is the pitch-perfect story of how real people cope, survive and love each other despite their faults. Sammy (Linney) and her younger brother, Terry (Mark Ruffalo) brought each other up after their parents were killed in an accident.
After some tough years, Sammy has achieved a measure of stability as the divorced mother of an 8-year-old-son, working for a small bank in upstate New York. Terry is still a lost soul, out of touch for long periods as he wanders from one (mis)adventure to another. As the movie opens, he has appeared on his sister’s doorstep after breaking up with his latest girlfriend. Is he there because he’s finally looking to change his life or just because he needs to borrow money?
Providing a simple answer is not what the movie is about. Rather, by following these two through the ups and downs of a few days together (some of them very funny) it illuminates the nature of their love and the meaning of “family.”
The characters in “You Can Count on Me” have been freed from the formulas of fiction and set loose to live lives where they screw up, learn from their mistakes and bumble hopefully into the future. It’s rare to get a good movie about the touchy adult relationship of a sister and brother. Rarer still for the director to be more fascinated by the process than the outcome. This is one of the best movies of the year.” – Roger Ebert