The Oscar-nominated screenplay is just one of the points of excellence in this beautifully constructed, intensely visualized debut effort. With its story of a brother-sister relationship in a family scarred by tragedy, this film may sound more like an off-Broadway play than an American movie, but director/writer Kenneth Lonergan and company vindicate themselves amply in cinematic terms. You Can Count on Me
has excellent performances from its two lead actors (Laura Linney and Mark Ruffalo), a wonderfully unpredictable set of secondary characters, a shrewd sense of everyday life in a smallish American town, and the courage and honesty to present sympathetic but unsentimental portraits of characters wrestling with the never-finished business of giving order to their unavoidably disordered lives. It’s a sad film, but not a despairing one.