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Reservation Road

4 out of 5 stars 88 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Academy Award nominee Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Ruffalo and Academy Award winners Jennifer Connelly and Mira Sorvino deliver riveting performances in the gripping thriller Reservation Road. A powerful human story of anger, revenge and great courage, this film takes you on an intense journey that follows two fathers as their families and lives converge after the events of one fateful night. "Suspenseful, emotional and completely engrossing" (Pete Hammond, Maxim), Reservation Road is "a deft, satisfying thriller" (Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly).


After grappling with civil war in Some Mother's Son and Hotel Rwanda, Terry George turns to the tranquility of the American suburbs. Based on the novel by John Burnham Schwartz, Reservation Road marks a smooth transition into seemingly alien territory. The Northern Irish director first introduces Connecticut professor Ethan (Joaquin Phoenix) and attorney Dwight (Mark Ruffalo). One night, they end up on the same road; Ethan is returning with his wife (Jennifer Connelly) and kids from a school recital, Dwight and his son are heading home after a baseball game. In an instant, Ethan's boy is killed in a hit-and-run accident. Dwight knows what he's done, but doesn't say a word, as he doesn't want to lose custody of his child. Impatient for justice, Ethan becomes convinced the authorities will never solve the case, so he tries to track down the killer himself. Coincidence builds on coincidence--Dwight's ex-wife (Mira Sorvino) teaches Ethan's daughter (Elle Fanning), and Ethan hires Dwight as his lawyer. Just as the attorney-client relationship forces the two men to work together, the script asks the same of these gifted actors. Fortunately, Phoenix and Ruffalo rise to the occasion. That said, movies about grieving parents can be a tough sell. It remains to be seen whether Reservation Road will benefit from the success of In the Bedroom and Mystic River--or suffer from the onslaught of cinematic grief. At the very least, it allows more light in at the end of its dark journey into the soul. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Stills from Reservation Road (click for larger image).

Special Features

  • Deleted Scenes
  • Looking Back on Reservation Road
  • Friday Night Lights Episode "Last Days of Summer"

  • Product Details

    • Actors: Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Connelly, Mira Sorvino, Elle Fanning
    • Directors: Terry George
    • Writers: Terry George, John Burnham Schwartz
    • Producers: Nick Wechsler, A. Kitman Ho
    • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
    • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
    • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
    • Dubbed: French
    • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
    • Number of discs: 1
    • Rated: R (Restricted)
    • Studio: Focus Features
    • DVD Release Date: April 8, 2008
    • Run Time: 103 minutes
    • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
    • ASIN: B0010KP360
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #66,046 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
    • Learn more about "Reservation Road" on IMDb

    Customer Reviews

    Top Customer Reviews

    Format: DVD
    The profound effects of the accidental death of a child on three families is vividly portrayed in this dark film by writer/director Terry George ('Hotel Rwanda', Hart's War', 'In the Name of the Father') as adapted and co-written by John Burnham Schwartz on whose novel the film is based. While it seems we are seeing a glut of films dealing with revenge on the part of injured people who feel the Law isn't fulfilling its duty, when a film such as RESERVATION ROAD comes along the theme feels fresh.

    Ethan and Grace Learner (Joaquin Phoenix and Jennifer Connelly) and their children Josh (Sean Curley) and Emma (Elle Fanning) are the 'perfect family', living comfortably in Connecticut, until one night after a picnic where Josh captured fireflies for his sister, the family stops at a roadside station and while Josh releases the fireflies at his mother's request he is hit by a car and killed. The driver of the car is Dwight Arno (Mark Ruffalo) who is trying to return his son Lucas (Eddie Alderson) to his estranged, remarried wife Ruth (Mira Sorvino) after a baseball game that ran too long. Instead of stopping when he hits the child, Dwight drives on, not wanting to upset his son. Within the tragedy of the next week the Learners are devastated and feel the police are not finding the perpetrator. They decide to engage a lawyer to assist the investigation and the lawyer they engage is Dwight, a man so torn by the sadness of his life that he is barely functioning - trying to find some solace in restoring a solid relationship with his son while dealing with the fact that he has killed another family's son.
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    19 Comments 31 of 34 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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    Format: DVD Verified Purchase
    It has been hard to write this review, as I really loved the book and the author did work on the screenplay (which was ultimately trimmed by the director, I believe).

    The movie has so many strong points and it deals with one of the most painful losses a parent can endure - and in such a terribly tragic and sudden way, no warning at all.

    MAJOR SPOILER ALERT: When the Lerner family is driving home one night, they make a stop at a gas station. That is when their son gets out of the car to let some lightening bugs out of a jar, a car comes along, hits him and kills him - and two families' lives are forever changed. Joaquin Phoenix does a fine job as Ethan, the father of the dead boy. His anger is palpable. Also, if you see the DVD make sure you listen to his description of how hard it was for him to channel that anger. He actually had to talk to victims to get a sense of how they felt after losing a child.

    It is hard not to feel sorry for both fathers - the one whose son was killed and the one who accidentally was the killer. Dwight Arno is the man who happened to drive into the boy and his pervading sadness is crafted superbly by Mark Ruffalo, an actor who always seems on the edge of sadness to me.

    These men have wives, of course, and I don't mean to slight them - or the actresses behind their depiction. Jennifer Connelly is Grace, wife to Ethan and mother of the dead child. Mira Sorvino is equally strong as Dwight's wife, although they are divorced, but share custody of a son.

    Having noted the solid acting in this movie, I do have to add that the plot did disappoint, having such high expectations after having read the book.
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    5 Comments 13 of 14 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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    Format: DVD
    "Reservation road" is by far one of the most gripping and tense thrillers of the year. The previous similar movie that I keep in mind was the unforgettable classic of Claude Chabrol: "This man must die" .

    A fateful night, an unpleasant and disgraced incident will join the lives of two well different families, and so the anger, despair and pain will involve the heart and minds of these uncomfortable parents. In this order of ideas, and after having lost the patience and faith in the judicial system the next step of this troubled father will be to go for legal advise, and so the destiny will gather the prey and hunter face to face.

    All the cast was terrific but Jennifer Connelly steals the show . her forceful and demanding performance overpasses the well known limits of the used to become a true reference pattern.

    Watch her for instance, at the moment her husband refers her about the incident of the fireflies and observe carefully the dramatic progression of her facial aspects; or the brief but intense dialogue with him at the moment she wants to give all the things of her beloved son.

    So, you will have not only a vibrant and riveting thriller, but a first -class performance and a careful camera work all the way through, that will involve you from start to finish.

    Absolutely recommended.
    Comment 7 of 7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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    The Lerner family attends a summer concert featuring their son, Josh. Ethan (Joaquin Phoenix), the dad and a Professor, his wife, Grace (Jennifer Connelly) and their daughter clap enthusiastically when the concert is over. During the drive home, Emma (Elle Fanning, Dakota's sister) has to stop at a gas station to use the restroom. Divorced dad, Dwight Arno (Mark Ruffalo) and his son Lucas (Eddie Arno) are enjoying a Red Sox game when the game goes into overtime prompting Lucas' mom (Mira Sorvino) to call them because they are late. Racing home, Lucas falls asleep as Dwight watches the time tick away. His ex-wife is sure to cause a scene and he doesn't want to ruin the memory of attending the game with his son. Rounding a dark bend, he notices Josh too late and swerves, causing Lucas to bump his head and wake up. Dwight speeds away; convincing himself he hit a log on the side of the road. Ethan watches in horror as his son becomes the victim of a hit and run. Grace and Emma come running out and Ethan tries to comfort them. The police follow some leads, but they have little to go on as Ethan didn't see the license plate or make of the car, he only knows it was an SUV. Someone suggests Ethan hire a lawyer to help make sure the police stay on track and to pursue a civil case, should it become necessary. He walks into Dwight's law office. As the police investigation continues, Ethan becomes more and more obsessed with finding the killer, unable to adequately help Grace or Emma deal with their pain. Dwight also lives in constant fear of being found out and starts to lose sleep with the guilt of what he has done.

    "Reservation Road", directed by Terry George ("Hotel Rawnda") and based on the novel by John Burnham Schwartz is a very faithful recreation of the book.
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    Comment 26 of 34 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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    Topic From this Discussion
    DVD Reservation Road DVD will not player on LG BH 100 Player
    I have purchased 3 dvds of this fim. Each one will not play on a magnavox dvd player which are a combination vcr-dvd player. The movie will playon my old dvd player which is not a combintation. Apparentlyi the disc being sold is encoded where it will not playon a combination.I took one to... Read More
    Jul 26, 2009 by William G. Thompson |  See all 3 posts
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