"You Can Count On Me" (Kenneth Lonergan, 2000) Samantha Prescott does everything right. She's a responsible single mom, with a well-regimented life, a steady job as a loan officer at a bank in upstate New York.* Life is good.
Her younger brother, Terry, though, wanders around, has no job but does have a girl "in trouble," and needs money. So it's time for a visit to Sammy to get away from the disaster of his life, spend some time with family. Maybe borrow some money.
Sammy is the responsible one. Terry is responsible, too, but it's usually for trouble. How can two disparate people come from the same family? Easy! And Terry's visit becomes a disruptive influence in the calm of Sammy's life. Doesn't it?
That's the central issue in this warm, bitter little dramedy that has at its core two extraordinarily strong performances from the astonishing Laura Linney and the chameleon-like Mark Rufalo. Linney doesn't change her look much from movie to movie; for her, it's all in the eyes, and in this one, she's got her "high-beams" on, scoping the world for danger, but rarely seeing it. Imagining it, yes, but never seeing it. Rufalo is all shaggy schlumpf in attitude and posture--a human question mark. He answers a few questions in the mind of Sammy's son Rudy (the latest spookily-good Culkin, Rory)--things Mom would never reveal to keep things tidy. Meanwhile she has a prickly problem with her new boss (Mathew Broderick, in full smarm mode--what he does best).
It's a seemingly simple film about the complications of family, which as everyone and his brother knows, implies a lot of blood under the bridge, because it's always thicker than water.
* Alright, I see you smirking! At the time this was written, it wasn't nearly so ironic.