41 of 44 people found the following review helpful
Yup, that's how life is!,
This review is from: You Can Count on Me [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Often a film is an escape. It's fantasy with larger-than-life characters. Not so with this small gem. In "You Can Count on Me" we meet real people - people whose lives aren't perfect, whose dreams aren't fancy, and who make mistakes. Nominated for two academy awards in 2000, this can be called a story about relationships. But before you roll your eyes in boredom, thinking this might be too talky, and full of pat psychological answers to every question, just wait. Even if easy answers are not forthcoming, you'll get a chance to glimpse some characters that are so real they could be the neighbors next door or members of your own family.
The key relationship here is between a brother and a sister. Orphaned as children, they've grown up counting on each other. Now they are in their thirties. The sister, Laura Linney, is a single mother of an 8-year-old boy, played by Rory Culkin. She works in a bank in their hometown in Upstate New York, and has made arrangements with her boss to use part of her lunch hour time to pick up her child from school and bring him to a baby sitter. The brother, played by Mark Ruffalo, has left home years before. He's a drifter who always needs money, impulsive and boyish and loveable all at the same time. His young nephew adores him, especially when he takes him to a pool hall one night.
The sister has stuff to contend with. There's a new branch manager Matthew Broderick, where she works, the kind of idiot boss who forces the staff to refrain from using bright colors on their computer screens because it doesn't represent the dignity of a bank. There's her son wanting to know more about his real father than she wants to tell him. And there's a marriage proposal from her long-term boring boyfriend. The brother's arrival is a catalyst for turmoil. How it all plays out is real.
Kenneth Lonergan wrote, directed and even plays a small part of a minister. He's a master of understatement and accuracy of landscape as well as emotions. It's like he just stood back and let the characters drive the plot. It seems simple. It isn't. Laura Linney and Mark Ruffalo give performances so fine that they don't even seem to be performing. And young Rory Culkin is perfect as just a regular kid who craves a father figure. The story moves fast, holding my interest throughout. I felt I was right there with these characters and identified with them completely. Highly recommended for everybody. You'll smile wistfully afterwards and think, "yup - that's how life is."