Two siblings, orphaned at an early age, have grown apart as adults. Sammy, the older of the two, has stayed in the small town of their childhood. A single mother, she works in the local bank and leads a steadfast moral life with her young son. Terry, her younger brother whom she helped raise, has become a self-destructive roamer with a taste for the wilder side of life. When Terry comes for a visit, his mere presence begins to crack the veneer of Sammy's well-ordered existence. Each is uneasy with the person the other one has become; the one tangible thing that keeps them together is the family home left to them by their parents. It also becomes the meeting place of their hearts and minds as they struggle to reconcile their conflicting lives with the love that binds them together.
This small realistic gem, set in an upstate New York town, looks deeply and empathetically into the loving but strained relationship between Sammy (Laura Linney), a single mother with an 8-year-old son, and Terry (Mark Ruffalo), her wastrel brother, who returns home after serving a jail sentence. The two share a special bond, having lost their parents in a car crash when they were children. Matthew Broderick is Sammy's stuffy new boss at the bank where she works as a loan officer. The tensions that erupt may not be the most melodramatic domestic problems ever filmed, but they're the stuff of life, and Linney's and Ruffalo's performances are achingly perfect. — Stephen Holden
2000-11-10 | Stephen Holden | Read the New York Times Review of You Can Count on Me