Posted by: Jay | April 28, 2008

Reservation Road

Ok, so my wife picked this one up at Blockbuster on Saturday night. I had never heard of it, but it had a good cast, including Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Connelly and Mira Sorvino.

Phoenix and Connelly play Ethan and Grace Learner, the loving parents of two kids, Emma and Josh. One night while driving home, the family stops at a gas station. The kids had some fireflies in a jar, and Josh runs over to an area near some bushes to let them out. At the same time, Dwight Arno (Ruffalo) is hurrying to get his son home from a baseball game. His ex-wife Ruth (Sorvino) has been hounding him and during one her many phone calls, he drifts over the yellow line. He over-corrects and tragically strikes Josh, killing him instantly. Arno, an attorney, stops, but then takes off.

Finding the person who killed his son becomes an obsession for Ethan. Since it was dark, he didn’t get much of a look at driver and knew only that it was a dark SUV that he was driving. The film centers around Ethan’s obsession and how it’s affecting his relationship with his wife and daughter. It also centers around the guilt and fear that Dwight is feeling as he knows that sooner or later, he is probably going to get caught.

The subject matter is depressing. We’re dealing with a film where a relatively happy family has to suddenly deal with the death of their 10 year old boy. The performances, especially those of Phoenix and Ruffalo are excellent. The only thing that takes the movie down in my view is the absurd coincidences that take place. For instance, Dwight’s ex wife Ruth, just happened to be Josh’s music teacher. This becomes critical later in the film. In addition, when Ethan feels that the police are not doing enough to find the driver, he decides to hire an attorney to investigate the matter. There must have been a shortage of lawyers where they all lived because the attorney he hires is none other than Dwight. It’s all just a little too neat. Thankfully, the ending didn’t have some absurd twist or ‘shock.’

Is it worth a rental? To be honest, if there’s not much else available, I’d go ahead and give it a look. But I wouldn’t recommend rushing out to get it.


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