You Can Count On Me
Laura Linney creates a breakthrough role as a woman suffering from single-mother dysfunction in upstate New York. Sammy, free of her marriage to a redneck creep, struggles to be a caring parent and make ends meet in a dead-end banking job. She has a new anal-retentive boss (Matthew Broderick) who relishes paperwork, and her on-again, off-again boyfriend finally wants to get married. Things seem to take an upswing when her wayward brother, Terry (Mark Ruffalo), returns to the family homestead and helps out with the care of Sammy’s eight-year-old son, Rudy, (Rory Culkin, even cuter than Macaulay). But though Terry’s the family screw-up who’s spent time in jail, it’s Sammy who acts the part as she wavers on the marriage proposal and starts sleeping with her dickhead boss, who’s married and expecting a baby.
Writer/director Ken Lonergan (he wrote the script for Analyze This) was decorated at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. His four leads, especially Linney, are superb, and though Lonergan at times betrays his players with forced situational entrapments and highbrow dialogue, his dark, witty depiction of small-town motherhood is affectingly bittersweet.