Friday, November 10, 2017

You Can Count on Me



Written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan, You Can Count on Me is the story of a single mother who gets a visit from her younger brother who stays longer than expected as they deal with their relationship as well as other issues within their family. The film is an exploration of the relationship between siblings as well as a woman trying to deal with aspects of her life as well as help her wayward brother find a sense of direction in his life. Starring Laura Linney, Mark Ruffalo, Rory Culkin, Jon Tenney, J. Smith-Cameron, Amy Ryan, Josh Lucas, Gaby Hoffman, Adam LeFevre, and Matthew Broderick. You Can Count on Me is an extraordinarily rich film from Kenneth Lonergan.

Set in a small town in upstate New York, the film follows a single mother who is raising her eight-year old son while working at a bank where she learns her younger brother is coming home. Though he was supposed to stay for a day as he’s asking her for money, some troubling circumstances relating to his girlfriend forces him to stay longer as he has to do a few duties for his sister in raising his nephew. During the course of the film, the two cope with their different lifestyles as well as their own vices which would eventually affect one another. Kenneth Lonergan’s script explore the dynamic between Sammy (Laura Linney) and Terry Prescott (Mark Ruffalo) as these two siblings who both lost their parents in an accident when they were kids as it had affected them greatly. For Sammy, she would live at the home she had lived for all of her life as she would share it with her son Rudy (Rory Culkin) as she struggles with her job due to the fact that she’s working for a new manager in Brian Everett (Matthew Broderick).

When Terry writes a letter in the hope that he would stay for a day, Sammy is excited at first until she learned why Terry hadn’t contacted her for months as it relates to the fact that he’s had some bad luck and continues to drift from city to city. Though his visit was only for money, he is forced to stay longer than expected where he would bond with Rudy who keeps asking Terry about his father since Sammy never talks about him as Terry would reveal that his father isn’t someone he liked at all. While Terry is someone that admits to having no real sense of direction of what to do. Sammy’s life is in a whirlwind as she is in relationship with a man named Bob (Jon Tenney) who wants to marry her as she is unsure while she would have an affair with her boss. Terry would know about Sammy’s love life as he would be baffled when she brings the local minister (Kenneth Lonergan) to counsel him as it is a key moment early in the third act about the tension between the two over their lifestyle choices.

Lonergan’s direction is simple in terms of the compositions and setting as much of the film is shot on location at Margaretville, New York near the Catskill Mountains as fictional small towns of Scottsville and Auburn. The locations in the film is a big importance as it relates to the this sheltered world that Sammy is in and why she wants to shelter Rudy from aspects of the outside world knowing how fucked up it is. For Terry, it’s an environment that isn’t ideal for him since there isn’t much to do other than drink, play pool, or go fishing. While there are some wide shots of the locations, Lonergan goes for something that is more intimate in terms of the drama that is prominent throughout the film. Notably in some of the close-ups and medium shots as there is this one shot in the latter from the stairs in the corner of the dining room that shows where Sammy, Terry, and Rudy would be sitting if they’re eating dinner. It’s among these little details including the lunch scene where Sammy and Terry meet on the day of the latter’s arrival where there is a wide shot to show the other patrons hearing the two argue over Terry’s troubles.

The direction also play into these little quirks over Brian’s disdain over things at the bank which is just silly as it play into some of the film’s humor which is subtle as well as what Sammy would do in her affair with Brian. Still, Lonergan maintains that low-key approach to the drama which include scenes in the third act as it play into Terry’s immaturity as well as Sammy’s own flaws where she would force Terry to confront his own aimlessness to cover up for her troubles. The third act is dramatically-intense as it relates to Rudy’s father where it play into why Sammy never wants Rudy to know about him and why Terry despises him. All of which forces Sammy and Terry to deal with their own differences but also realize that they can still rely on each other. Overall, Lonergan crafts a rapturous yet heartfelt film about two siblings coping with loss and themselves.

Cinematographer Stephen Kazmierski does excellent work with the film’s cinematography as it is straightforward to play into the locations in the daytime but also with some low-key lighting for the scenes at night including the film’s opening scene. Editor Anne McCabe does brilliant work with the editing as it is straightforward with some jump-cuts as well as some rhythmic cuts for the drama. Production designer Michael Shaw, with set decorator Lydia Marks and art director Shawn Carroll, does fantastic work with the look of the house Sammy and Rudy live in as well as a few of the places they go to with Terry.

Costume designer Melissa Toth does nice work with the costumes as it is mainly straightforward to play into the look of the characters from the more clean clothes of Sammy when she’s working to the ragged look of Terry. Sound editor Wendy Hedin does terrific work with the sound as it play into the natural atmosphere of the locations including the chaotic sound at the bar. The film’s music by Lesley Barber is superb as it is very low-key in its folk-based score with bits of country while music supervisors Barry Cole and Christopher Covert provide music from folk and country with the latter being something Sammy listens to with the rest of the soundtrack consisting of classical pieces by Johann Sebastian Bach.

The casting by Lina Todd is wonderful as it feature some notable small roles from Amy Ryan and Michael Countryman as Sammy and Terry’s parents in the first scene, Haley Feiffer as Sammy and Terry’s babysitter early in the film, Whitney Vance as the young Sammy, Peter Kerwin as the young Terry, Kenneth Lonergan as the local pastor, Nina Garbiras as Brian’s pregnant wife, Kim Parker as the girlfriend of Rudy’s father, Adam LeFerve as the local sheriff who knows Sammy and Terry, Gaby Hoffman as Terry’s girlfriend at Worcester, J. Smith-Cameron as a bank secretary that Sammy tries to protect from Brian, and Josh Lucas as the man who might be Rudy’s father. Jon Tenney is superb as Bob as an old boyfriend of Sammy who is seeking to marry her unaware of the things she does as he’s just a nice guy that never did anything wrong.

Matthew Broderick is excellent as Brian Everett as the bank manager and Sammy’s boss who is annoyed by the little quirks at the bank while engaging into an affair with Sammy that becomes too intense for Sammy. Rory Culkin is brilliant as Rudy as Sammy’s eight-year old son that is trying to deal with his own adolescents and idea of who his father is where he would find a father-figure in his uncle where he would get a broad idea of the world. Mark Ruffalo is incredible as Terry Prescott as Sammy’s younger brother who drifts from place to place to find something as he finds himself back home unsure of what to do while finding a comfortable role as Rudy’s uncle where he would give his nephews an idea of the world but also make sure that the kid does have some kind of hope to carry. Finally, there’s Laura Linney in a phenomenal performance as Sammy Prescott as a bank loan manager who is raising an eight-year old son as she is dealing with all things in her life including relationships with two different men as well as dealing with her brother at home and wondering about what he will do next as she is also forced to face her own faults.

You Can Count on Me is a tremendous film from Kenneth Lonergan that features great performances from Laura Linney, Mark Ruffalo, and Rory Culkin. Along with its ensemble cast, gorgeous setting, and a riveting story about loss and siblings coping with their own differences. It’s a film that manages to create something that is engaging but it is also willing not to provide any easy answers into how some cope with loss or the fact that they can’t adjust to certain places or ideas in life. In the end, You Can Count on Me is a spectacular film from Kenneth Lonergan.

Kenneth Lonergan Films: Margaret (2011 film) - Manchester by the Sea

© thevoid99 2017

1 comment:

Wendell Ottley said...

I haven't heard of this one before, but it sounds interesting. I'll be on the lookout for it.