Monday, April 28, 2008

Reservation Road

Reservation Road (2007)
Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Connelly, Mira Sorvino. Co-writer and Director Terry George.

Good acting by Ruffalo and Connelly, fighting the script all the way, save this picture from an “F”. It should have been a strong thriller. Ruffalo is an attorney who accidentally kills Phoenix’s and Connelly’s child in a hit-and-run (a mistake that few attorneys would make). The police are impotent so Phoenix hires an attorney to move the investigation along. Guess who he hires? That’s right! So there should be crackling tension there between the two men, but there isn’t. A lot of the movie is taken up with grieving over the lost child, with long drawn out funeral and Connelly gnashing teeth and wailing interminably. Of course it is a tragic situation, but I get that. I do not need to wallow in melodrama for its own sake. Likewise, Ruffalo spends a great deal of screen time beating his breast in guilt, grief, fear, and confusion. It’s just sappy sentimentality, cliched and not convincing. Eventually Phoenix does figure out (by magic it seems) who the perp was and the story ends in yet another melodramatic flourish. We never see the inside of a courtroom. What a wasted opportunity to tell a cleverly conceived story!

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