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What Doesn't Kill You

A movie directed by Brian Goodman

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Great true story about responsibility and choices

  • May 14, 2009
Where do I begin? Acting - top class. Cinematography - terrific. Story - what can be better than real life stories?
"This is me, this is what I do." Brian (Mark Ruffalo) to his wife - played by Amanda Peet.
He is a Boston criminal. He doesn't know any better and neither does his friend Paulie (Ethan Hawke). Both have been doing jobs for their boss since they were kids.
Things go quite well at first. Brian makes a living. Nothing special but he and his family are doing all right. Then drugs get in the way and he loses control. A job goes wrong and both Brian and Paulie end up in jail.
There Brian finally realizes what he was throwing away all this time. A loving wife who still holds on to him, two great kids, love.
To me the best moment in the film is a scene after Brian is back home from prison and he talks to his eldest son on the porch. He knows he can't let them down again. If he does he will lose everything he ever had.
So he makes a choice, takes the last chance he's got. To be there for those who love him and not to deceive them again. He is strong and together they will make it.
As I said before, great acting by the entire cast, Mark, Ethan, Amanda, but also the kids, the crime boss (Brian Goodman - also first time director).
I loved Mark in Zodiac, Amanda in Syriana and Ethan in Training Day but here they are even better.
Most of the story takes place during the winter and although it's often sunny they toned down the colors adding a little to the weight of the drama.
The Blu-ray is marvelous. Crisp when needed (not overdone thank God) with the winter sun, yet at the same time tolerating a certain softness which adds to the intimacy and warmth.
Get it.

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About the reviewer
Andre Heeger ()
Ranked #144
I love stories in all form. Painting, film, comics, books, music - anything. Also sculpture, more the classic kind from ROman, Greek onward until I need to read so I might understand what I am supposed … more
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About this movie


Mark Ruffalo is terrific inWhat Doesn't Kill Youas a South Boston career criminal who since his early teens has done "errands" for the neighborhood crimelord and never considered any other way of making a living. It's the sort of performance wherein the actor so wholly inhabits the character that his every glance, stride, or hesitation is a glimpse into the guy's soul, even as the guy is a person of modest intelligence not given to complex self-expression. That's fascinating to watch (and this may be Ruffalo's career-best work), but it nudges us toward recognizing the film's limitations as well as its core strength.What Doesn't Kill Youis an actors' movie; Brian Goodman, its co-writer and first-time director, is himself an actor and plays the gang boss. Virtually every scene is an occasion for actors to conspire in creating a believable texture of life going on. The cast all repay watching, especially Ethan Hawke as Ruffalo's lifelong pal and Amanda Peet as the long-suffering wife who seems to have stepped right out of a Southie kitchen. But there's only the barest outline of a screenplay. We get what every scene is supposed to be about, but they're mostly pieces of things, indications rather than scenes that flow and build; it's a little like seeing a feature-length compression of an entire season ofThe Wire. Although a foreword announces that "the story you are about to see is true," it's also a pretty familiar story as crime movies go. So, as a genre entry,What Doesn't ...
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Director: Brian Goodman
DVD Release Date: April 28, 2009
Runtime: 100 minutes
Studio: Sony Pictures
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