When a child is killed in a hit and run accident, both his grieving father, Ethan (Joaquin Phoenix), and the guilt-ridden killer, Dwight, (Mark Ruffalo) suffer horribly. Things get even worse when Ethan hires Dwight to solve the case.
The first 90 minutes of the movie were very good. The anguish of both father and killer was intense and obviously building to an emotional climax. The actors blew it in the final scene, however; neither actor had the depth to convey the misery the script demanded. The great build-up fell flat with shallow and unconvincing acting. Another problem was that the two male leads looked too much alike; they had to give Phoenix a bushy lumberjack beard so we could tell them apart and it was distracting. Also, Jennifer Connelly was never believable as a devastated mother; in fact, her reaction when the child died made me assume she was his step-mother.
The profound effects of the accidental death of a child on three families is vividly portrayed in this dark film by writer/director Terry George ('Hotel Rwanda', Hart's War', 'In the Name of the Father') as adapted and co-written by John Burnham Schwartz on whose novel the film is based. While it seems we are seeing a glut of films dealing with revenge on the part of injured people who feel the Law isn't fulfilling its duty, when a film such as RESERVATION ROAD comes along the theme feels fresh. &n … more
After grappling with civil war inSome Mother's SonandHotel Rwanda, Terry George turns to the tranquility of the American suburbs. Based on the novel by John Burnham Schwartz,Reservation Roadmarks a smooth transition into seemingly alien territory. The Northern Irish director first introduces Connecticut professor Ethan (Joaquin Phoenix) and attorney Dwight (Mark Ruffalo). One night, they end up on the same road; Ethan is returning with his wife (Jennifer Connelly) and kids from a school recital, Dwight and his son are heading home after a baseball game. In an instant, Ethan's boy is killed in a hit-and-run accident. Dwight knows what he's done, but doesn't say a word, as he doesn't want to lose custody of his child. Impatient for justice, Ethan becomes convinced the authorities will never solve the case, so he tries to track down the killer himself. Coincidence builds on coincidence--Dwight's ex-wife (Mira Sorvino) teaches Ethan's daughter (Elle Fanning), and Ethan hires Dwight as his lawyer. Just as the attorney-client relationship forces the two men to work together, the script asks the same of these gifted actors. Fortunately, Phoenix and Ruffalo rise to the occasion. That said, movies about grieving parents can be a tough sell. It remains to be seen whetherReservation Roadwill benefit from the success ofIn the BedroomandMystic River--or suffer from the onslaught of cinematic grief. At the very least, it allows more light in at the end of its ...