I was taken with Mark Ruffalo’s performance in “The Kids Are All Right” last year and friends said, “If you think he was good in that, you have got to see ‘You Can Count on Me.’” I finally got around to watching “You Can Count on Me” over the weekend and they were right. Laura Linney and Ruffalo are both wonderful and give the kind of performances that are so believable you forget they are acting.
The movie, released in 2000, was written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan. It is tender without being sentimental. Lonergan shows the kind of restraint that I cherish–he never hits us over the head, never goes for the obvious, over-the-top emotion. He lets uncomfortable feelings hang and is confident enough to leave matters unresolved. It is so expertly directed that watching it, I was reminded that great directing is not just about technical wizardry, it is about serving the story, understanding pace and rhythm, and respecting the audience enough to fill in the blanks. This movie proves that you can be modest without being precious. I’d like to watch it again soon.