Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Movie Review: Reservation Road

The latest from Hotel Rwanda director Terry George is a lot like a made-for-TV version of Todd Fields’ In The Bedroom or Little Children, both of which earned multiple Oscar nominations for their tales of the dark side of life in the rich New England suburbs. Reservation Road is the story of a professor (Joaquin Phoenix) who loses his 10-year-old son when a lawyer (Mark Ruffalo) accidentally hits him with his SUV and then drives away. The accident deeply affects both men and alters their relationship with their families: Phoenix obsesses over finding his son's killer at the expense of comforting his wife (the underused Jennifer Connelly) and daughter, while Ruffalo desperately tries to reconnect with his own son before the truth about what he did comes out. Gradually, the two stranger's lives overlap –- Phoenix hires Ruffalo to assist the police investigation into his son's death, Ruffalo’s ex-wife gives Phoenix’s daughter piano lessons -- setting the stage for a confrontation between the two men that you can see coming from the second Phoenix's son is killed. While the plot lacks the nuances that made Fields' two films so engaging, Reservation Road is saved by terrific performances from the two male leads, Ruffalo in particular.

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