You Can Count on Me

7.51 h 50 min2000X-RayR
HD. Laura Linney and Mark Ruffalo star in a story about a single mother whose life takes a turn with the return of her troubled brother.
Kenneth Lonergan
Laura LinneyMark RuffaloMatthew Broderick
English [CC]
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Supporting actors
Jon TenneyRory Culkin
John HartJeff SharpLarry MeistrichBarbara De Fina
Paramount Pictures
R (Restricted)
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4.4 out of 5 stars

442 global ratings

  1. 65% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 18% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 10% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 2% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 4% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

John SamsvickReviewed in the United States on April 11, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
A Moving Critical Commentary on Society
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This movie's power to pull the viewer down into the story it tells has been confirmed by the many prizes it has won in various festivals, one of the latest in 2016 when the B.B.C. polled it as one of the greatest films produced since 2000. A good case can be made for the belief that writer and director, Kenneth Lonergan, has with a clever and subtle hand woven into it a sub-text that serves as a commentary on modern society, with critical and provocative suggestions on cultural elements such as church, family, local community and even the educational establishment and its pretentions. In the first scenes we are immediately struck by the implied failure of the church to feel and respond to the trauma of the children bereft of their parents in a awful accident with a tractor-trailer. We see the pastor mouthing words we cannot hear, nor the be-numbed children understand. And after Sammy's loss of parents' influence reveals itself in confusing and chaotic sexual affairs, she boldly berates her pastor for not warning her when young about these dangers to her soul, and treating her with psychiatry. Lonergan also levels charges of incompetence on academia in a clever bit when Terry tries to widen young Rudy's perspective by complaining about the narrow views of the locals, and elaborating on the wide wonders of the outside world. Rudy responds "What are you talking about": Terry admits : "I have no idea". A final scene does "pull us in" when Terry, after a touching farewell embrace with his beloved sister, finds himself kneeling where Sammy knelt years before, at the graves of his father and mother. We will not be amiss in feeling that this talented and sensitive author is sharing with us his convictions about the centrality of the family at the foundation of a healthy society.
5 people found this helpful
Gregory ClarkReviewed in the United States on September 29, 2017
4.0 out of 5 stars
A good film about family
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Mark Ruffalo and Laura Linney played their characters as brother and sister very well. Matthew Broderick, another excellent actor in this film, is clearly not "Ferris Beuhler" anymore. I am obviously 'late to the party' regarding Mr Broderick and his career. Every role in which I've seen him, I could never see past Ferris. Now,17 years later since this film was made I can. As I said: late to the party. Although he was the first actor cast in this film, he was an excellent choice for the bank branch manager. Even if all the other actors signed-on just because he was in it, who cares. The casting was excellent and the actors were believable and true to their character. He was excellent: especially in his scenes with Laura Linney's character.

I was about to give this film only three stars. Yet due to the second half and the excellent writing and acting, I chose to furnish it with another star. The only, single issue I had was the first half. It seemed scattered, ill-defined, and wandering for it's place in life. All of this almost made me shut off the movie. I'm so glad I hung in because from the 50-yard line to the end zone, the end; the film, it's storyline, writing, and acting was excellent. I am still amazed at how this was achieved.

So, in summary, it's a good film. Watching it is time well spent. It was also great seeing Mark Ruffalo in his younger years. Laura Linney's eight-year-old son was another excellent choice for his role. Although I think more could have been done with his character, I have to remember he was a child actor in 2000 when the film was made per the credits. So, again, give it a good watch. Afterwards, I think you'll be glad you watched.
4 people found this helpful
Allen Vander MeulenReviewed in the United States on April 9, 2010
5.0 out of 5 stars
A fascinating exploration into the effects of emotional trauma
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Nominated for Academy Awards in 2000 for Best Actress and Best Screenplay, "You Can Count on Me" is a story about a sister "Sammy" (Laura Linney) and brother "Terry" (Mark Ruffalo) who are seeking to live with the emotional scars they carry as a result of childhood traumas. I use the plural "traumas" here because subtle hints throughout the film (even in the very first scene) make it clear that issues other than the sudden death of their parents when they were kids contributed to their woundedness later in life.

The film is a rich and complex study of the costs of trauma and abuse, and how the scars they cause stay with us throughout our lives, impacting how we view ourselves and how we view, treat and interact-with friends (and acquaintances).

The center of the film is on the "Big Sister" (Sammy) in the story, and shows us that, despite trying very hard to give the appearance of being a successful, disciplined, put-together person, is an emotional mess: engaging in self destructive behaviors, displacing her own internal pain and anger onto others, and refusing to admit she has problems. Laura Linney's performance in this role earned her an Oscar nomination, and rightfully so: she does an excellent job of portraying her character realistically and subtley, avoiding the trap of becoming trite or preachy in her characterization of "Sammy".

Her brother (Terry) is equally a mess, but in some ways is healthier: admitting he's a mess, and showing he's capable of emotional growth and healing by the time the film ends. A particularly good scene is his interaction with his sister's inept Pastor (portrayed by the film's writer and director, Kenneth Lonergan). It becomes clear during the course of this scene that Terry is a much more intelligent, self-aware and thoughtful person than he normally portrays himself to be. Mark Ruffalo, in this role, strikes a great balance between the troubled, devil-may-care attitude towards life and others that you expect; yet he is also sensitive and caring. You see his character evolving over the course of the film as he learns that the lives of those around him matter, too.

This film seeks to portray complex and subtle emotions and interactions between its characters. Kenneth Lonergan appears to be very aware of the sources and costs of emotional trauma, and yet was able to portray the subject, in this his first major film, with sensitivity and light humor. In the end, his work leaves us with multiple messages. The one I will remember is his message of hope: that no matter how painful or traumatic one's past is, you can overcome it.

Well worth watching for those who like emotionally complex characters in interesting dramas: definitely a five star film!
23 people found this helpful
KcornReviewed in the United States on July 31, 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars
I could watch this one over and over, poignat, touching!
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Laura Linney, Mark Ruffalo, Matthew Broderick and Rory Culkin make make this film shine. While focusing primarily on the relationship between a sister (Linney) and brother (Ruffalo) who have a difficult time understanding one another, the film delves into even deepr subplots about the mysteries of the human heart and how little control we have over our impulses and desires. Linney plays Sammy, a single mother struggling to raise her son whil dealing with a frustrating job at her bank, a job made difficult mainly because of her new manager, played by Matthew Broderick. To add to the mix, her brother suddenly shows up and lives with her for awhile. Mark Ruffalo was stunning as the brother and I look forward to seeing him in more movies. I really related to Sammy, perhaps because of Laura Linney's skill in making her come alive. She is a woman who can't resist those in need, which explains why she is drawn to her bank manager while also juggling a relationship with a long-term boyfriend. Both need her, but for different reasons and if someone needs her, she finds it hard to say no. I found the relationship between Broderick and Linney to be as fascinating as anything in the movie, although every scene in the movie was a gem. If you have a choice, get the DVD of this one, if only for the revealing comments by the director.
8 people found this helpful
Ken MillerReviewed in the United States on September 24, 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars
well-acted character-driven drama
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A good drama begins with realistic characters, and YOU CAN COUNT ON ME has several of them. Start with Laura Linney, a divorced mom with a few work problems, a good relationship with her son, and an adult younger brother who drives her crazy.
That younger brother, Terry, is played by Mark Ruffalo. Totally unhinged and irresponsible, Terry visits his sister in order to collect money for his girlfriend's abortion. He then stays for a few days; after all, she's his sister, and she lives in his hometown too. But can his sister count on him? He's not dependable. Can she share a house with a man who lives like he's still a teenager? Can she even trust Terry to babysit her son? Ruffalo's performance is amazing. He pulls off the character seemingly with ease. Kudos to the director and producer for making this movie. Movies about adult brother-sister relationships are scarce these days.
Matthew Broderick gets some credit for playing Linney's supervisor, a soon-to-be dad with a knack for rubbing his new employees the wrong way. His chemistry with Linney is obvious, and these two create scenes of office confrontation which are priceless.
Then there is Kenneth Lonergan as the priest. Liberal, not pushy, and very caring, he tries to help people through. Lonergan, also the film's director, gives a good performance.
The drama revolves around Linney's character, as she tries to deal with juggling motherhood, sisterhood, and her job, not to mention her social life. Just wait until you see the guy that she dates...
See YOU CAN COUNT ON ME. With a great story and script, and fine performances, it's an excellent movie.
I saw the DVD, then I watched the movie with director's comments. The comments were insightful, and they enhanced both my understanding and enjoyment of the movie. I'll be eagerly awaiting more movies from Kenneth Lonergan and Laura Linney.
4 people found this helpful
M. JEFFREY MCMAHONReviewed in the United States on June 6, 2005
5.0 out of 5 stars
Mark Ruffalo Emerges as a Great Actor
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One of the most compelling events of the release of Kenneth Lonergan's You Can Count On Me is that it gave visibility to Mark Ruffalo who plays a troubled young man who, unable to deal with the childhood trauma of having lost his parents to a car crash, lives of life of unattached agony and isolation. He's a loner and a drifter, medicating his self-pity with pot and short-lived relationships. His sister Sammy, played wonderfully by Laura Linney, reacts to the same tragedy by being, in many ways, an overresponsible overcontrolling super mom. Two opposite reactions to the same tragedy of course result in a sibling clash. This film shows with great complexity and biting comic insight, the attempt of this brother and sister to shed their defense mechanisms and most importantly reconnect with one another. The ride is never easy in this film. No easy answers are given. Just as important, this film, which deals with the pain of loss, never descends into the maudlin Hallmark movie sap that other films would. Balancing edgy humor and profound psychological insight, Lonergan has written and directed a tale that captures the layers upon layers of psychological complexity that accompany the trauma of loss. Amazingly, he does it in a fast-paced film with scenes that are by turns comic and dramatic. Matthew Broderick, for example, plays a hilarious role of Sammy's neurotic anal-retentive boss at the bank. The conflict between him and Sammy leads to a plot point that I'll let you discover in the film.

But most of all, this film shines because Mark Ruffalo plays such an endearing, sympathetic, sometimes infuriating character. You won't forget him.
6 people found this helpful
LadyScholarReviewed in the United States on April 30, 2015
4.0 out of 5 stars
Superb Cast & Acting, Warm, Worthy & Satisfying
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Rhis film is excellently cast and well acted. Although it initially stood out for me that Ruffalo (superb actor) was cast looking nothing like his family members (Laura Linney and Rory Culkin), his marvelous acting skills make the viewer forget that in Short order. Linney shows a much wider range of her acting than I have aeen before in welcome fashion, and Rory Culkin is wonderful. The cast is surprising and great.

This film is a great story, somewhat predictable, but really worthwhile, warm and satisfying.
3 people found this helpful
ScarleettaReviewed in the United States on June 1, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
Found by accident, NOT an accident to watch
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Who doesn't LOVE laura and mark and matt and kulkin???? Didnt agree with 1 of laura choices, but, over all, WHAT. AH MOVIE!
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