Heroes of the Zeroes: You Can Count On Me
Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000-2009.
“You Can Count On Me”
Those looking beyond that would find, in Kenneth Lonergan’s 2000 film, a compelling, sometimes comic story about compulsively contradictory siblings.
Sammy (Laura Linney) is a single mom to young Rudy (Rory Culkin) and an officer at a Catskills-area bank where things are shaken up by new boss Brian (Matthew Broderick, hitting nice notes of disappointment with his corporate banishment).
Sammy handles disruption poorly, having exhausted such reserves as a child when her parents died in a car crash. Atop workplace drama, Sammy’s estranged brother, Terry (Mark Ruffalo), arrives to plea for cash. At Terry’s welcome-back lunch, Lonergan widens the onscreen gulf as conversation turns corrosive.
Deciding to stick around for a bit, Terry embraces his black-sheep burden as a cautionary tale for Rudy — oddly endorsing responsibility while casually shirking it himself. (To see an early Ruffalo’s young-Brando swagger and scrappiness, look no further.)
In that regard, Terry leads by example better than Sammy — her needling as much an attempted absolution of her own misdeeds, which escalate.
The score of Bach’s unaccompanied-cello suites befits siblings accustomed to life alone — their passages of mourning and joy given life by characters with the right proportions of antagonism and affection.
Unresolved yet complete, “Count” is about replacing fear with truth as the operant bond between uncle and nephew, mother and son, brother and sister.