[MOVIE REVIEW]Count on your money's worthDespite a title that sounds like a typical, sentimental Hollywood drama, the film "You Can Count on Me" challenges the viewers' expectations within the first 10 minutes with its subtle depiction of a brother and sister whose lives have taken different paths. Produced in part by Martin Scorsese and directed by Kenneth Lonergan (who also has a small role in the film), "You Can Count on Me" won the 2000 Sundance Film Festival awards for best picture and best screenplay.
The film is set in a small town in the Catskill Mountains of New York state, a town of strong middle-class, Roman Catholic families. The story begins with a scarring incident when Samantha (played by Laura Linney) and her younger brother Terry (Mark Ruffalo) are children, and they lose their parents in a car accident.
Fast forward a couple of decades, and Samantha has a static life as a single mother who works as a loan officer in the town bank, doing her best to raise her 8-year-old son Rudy (Rory Culkin).
Her troubles begin, however, when Terry reappears after one of his typical extended absences. Terry is something of a Bohemian, traveling around the country, smoking pot and not doing anything in particular. Of course, he wants to borrow money.
Rudy, however, who never knew his real dad, takes to Terry, considering him to be a father figure. But after a series of clashes between Terry and Samantha, the two finally decide to go their own ways. Terry idly promises that he'll be back for Christmas, but there is no reason to believe him. Samantha stays behind in her hometown, choosing her stable life over the uncertainty of possibilities.
The film is heartwarming as well as humorous and innovative. Throughout the movie, viewers are constantly entertained with detailed depictions of the small-town mentality of the community's people and their banal conversations.
Mark Ruffalo, who also starred in Ang Lee's "Ride with the Devil" and has been praised by many critics, gives a great performance.
Matthew Broderick shines in his supporting role as a stubborn and dim bank manager who is having an affair with Samantha.
There is no cheap melodrama or expensive special effects; instead "You Can Count on Me" takes a rarer and more challenging path － good writing and acting to tell a great story.
by Park Soo-mee