After grappling with civil war inSome Mother's Son
, Terry George turns to the tranquility of the American suburbs. Based on the novel by John Burnham Schwartz,Reservation Road
marks 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 Road
will benefit from the success ofIn the Bedroom
--or suffer from the onslaught of cinematic grief. At the very least, it allows more light in at the end of its dark journey into the soul. --Kathleen C. Fennessy Stills from Reservation Road (click for larger image).