Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Joaquin Phoenix, Jennifer Connelly, Mark Ruffalo, Mira Sorvino, Elle Fanning
Written by: Terry George, John Burnham Schwartz, based on a novel by John Burnham Schwartz
Directed by: Terry George
MPAA Rating: R for language and some disturbing images
Running Time: 102
Date: 09/13/2007
IMDB

Reservation Road (2007)

1 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

'Road' Weary

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Reservation Road contains the nugget of a great idea. A boy is killed in a hit and run accident. Fed up with the police's lack of cooperation, the boy's father hires a lawyer to help, little realizing that the lawyer is actually the driver. This could have been a crackerjack paranoid thriller of the Fritz Lang school, but director Terry George is more interested in making a prestige picture, full of yelling and crying. And he can't even do that well; he handles the melodrama with iron gloves, smashing any semblance of grace or finesse. The movie's only interesting trick is to slowly swap sympathy from the grieving dad, Ethan Learner (Joaquin Phoenix) to the suffering driver, Dwight Arno (Mark Ruffalo). Jennifer Connelly co-stars as Ethan's wife, and her half-drawn character must unfairly stop her own grieving process to care for her husband. The talented Elle Fanning plays the surviving sister, whose only purpose is to foreshadow her brother's death; he gives her a jar of fireflies just prior to the accident, just to show what a sweet, loving and totally flawless child he is. Finally, just in case the audience doesn't get the picture's importance, the director includes a scene of Ethan teaching a class about the media's involvement in the image of the American military. This is an astonishing failure coming from director George, whose Hotel Rwanda was an uncommonly powerful and emotionally vivid achievement. Mira Sorvino co-stars. The story takes place before and during the Boston Red Sox's 2004 World Series victory.

DVD Details: Universal/Focus's 2008 DVD comes with deleted scenes and the featurette "Looking back on Reservation Road." The soundtrack comes with optional Spanish and French language tracks, plus optional English, French and Spanish subtitles.

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