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On a warm September evening, college professor Ethan Learner (Joaquin Phoenix), his wife Grace (Jennifer Connelly), and their daughter Emma (Elle Fanning) are attending a recital where their 10-year-old son Josh (Sean Curly) is playing cello. On the way home, they stop at a gas station on Reservation Road where a tragic accident kills Josh. That same evening, law associate Dwight Arno (Mark Ruffalo) and his 11-year-old son Lucas (Eddie Alderson) are attending a baseball game. Their favorite team, the Red Sox, is playing. Driving his son back to his ex-wife, Lucas' mother, Ruth (Mira Sorvino), Dwight is also heading for Reservation Road, where in the darkness he hits Josh - and panicked, speeds away. As a reckoning looms, the two fathers are forced to make the hardest choices of their lives.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Reservation Road, where the event central to this story takes place, is a symbolic crossroads for two families in this engaging drama about a hit and run accident and its aftermath. The issue at stake is how a frightened man who causes the accident tries to run away from it, only to find that the most determined character chasing him is himself.

Mark Ruffalo is one of America's most gripping actors, generating enormous amounts of dynamic tension in every character he plays. As the divorced dad who panics after his car hits a youngster one night on the road, he brings great complexity to the role, making us understand his mental process and not too quick to judge him.

Joaquin Phoenix as the enraged father whose son is killed provides an equally solid character and the story of how these two men live through the ensuing trauma makes the film fascinating. Jennifer Connelly is excellent as the grieving mother, as is Mina Servino as Ruth, the divorced wife, who has a connection to the dead boy.

Although we don't know the exact setting, it's a small town in middle America, judging by the elements, where folks are linked by less than six degrees of separation. I mention this because as well as Ruth's, there is one other connections that would otherwise seem contrived. Ruth is the music teacher who taught the 10 year old cello playing Josh; and Ruffalo's Dwight works at the law firm hired by the dead boy's son to track the police investigation. These linkages of course fuel the dramatic possibilities, but are a tad distracting for their supersized coincidences. Still, it's a small town, as I say.

Published August 7, 2008

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(US, 2007)

CAST: Joaquin Phoenix, Jennifer Connelly, Mark Ruffalo, Sean Curly, Eddie Alderson, Elle Fanning, Mira Sorvino

PRODUCER: A. Kitman Ho, Nick Wechsler

DIRECTOR: Terry George

SCRIPT: Terry George, John Burnham Schwartz (novel by Schwartz)


EDITOR: Naomi Geraghty

MUSIC: Mark Isham


RUNNING TIME: 98 minutes


SPECIAL FEATURES: Deleted scenes; Looking Back on Reservation Road (15 mins)


DVD RELEASE: August 7, 2008

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