You Can Count On Me

Director: Kenneth Lonergan
Screenwriters: Kenneth Lonergan

Institute History

  • 2000 Sundance Film Festival


Two siblings, orphaned at an early age, have grown apart as adults. Sammy (Laura Linney), 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 (Mark Ruffalo), 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.

Kenneth Lonergan, a wise, observant writer, proves subtle and insightful as a director. The performances he extracts are exceptional. Linny is luminous as Sammy, delighted and shocked as she begins an affair with her married boss (a persnickety Matthew Broderick). Ruffalo is raw and reactive, firmly resisting the temptation to slip into the warmth and quotidian life of his sister’s home. These characters, defined by what they do that is out of character, are fully realized and never cloying. In You Can Count On Me, Lonergan has created a work which explores the emotional landscape of commitment and love, family and home, pleasure and responsibility.

— John Cooper

Screening Details

Sundance Film Festival Awards

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