Movie Review – Reservation Road

Have you heard of this movie? I hadn’t. I don’t even remember why I put it on my Netflix list, but I did. And after watching it I think more people should be adding it their Netflix lists. Reservation Road is one of the best movies I’ve seen since The Dark Knight and way better than a lot of movies nominated for the 2009 Oscars. So, why don’t I even remember this movie being in theaters? I’m afraid we’ll never know, but what we do know is that this film starring Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Connelly, Mira Sorvino, Elle Fanning and Eddie Alderson is intense and moving and deserving of more buzz than it received.

Reservation Road is a twisting, dark road that is the scene of a tragic accident. Josh the son of Ethan (Joaquin Phoenix) and Grace (Jennifer Connelly) is struck by an SUV and dies. The SUV’s driver (Mark Ruffalo) leaves the scene with his own son in the car. The movie shows us both sides of the tragedy – how the parent’s of the deceased boy deal with this terrible loss to their family and how the killer deals with the guilt of knowing he’s to blame. In a surprise twist, Ethan seeks legal help from the SUV driver’s law firm and the driver is assigned to the case adding an extra layer of complexity to his feelings on the situation. The acting is wonderful. It’s very intense for a lot of the film, but the situation calls for it. The pacing of the film is appropriate too. We start out with the accident, then funeral, then grieving and it’s many phases. As well as the building guilt Ruffalo’s character experiences as time goes on and as his connections to the family increase. The most compelling part of the film I thought was the end. It ties the two storylines together. Both Phoenix and Ruffalo’s characters are fathers and where one is left without a son – once Ruffalo’s secret is revealed his son is left without a father.

From the scenic New England landscape to the thorough roller coaster of emotions and actions expressed through the script and through the acting – Reservation Road is definitely worth a rental, just make sure you have some tissues near by.

“Basically, I'm for anything that gets you through the night - be it prayer, tranquilizers or a bottle of Jack Daniels.” – Frank Sinatra
So may the prayers, tranquilizers and JD be with you and see you next time.

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