You Can Count On Me

You Can Count On Me is a 2000 American drama film written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan (in his directorial debut) and starring Laura Linney, Mark Ruffalo, Rory Culkin, and Matthew Broderick. It tells the story of Sammy, a single mother living in a small Catskill Mountains town, and her complicated relationships with family and friends.

2000 American film
You Can Count On Me

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Kenneth Lonergan
Written by Kenneth Lonergan
Produced by
Cinematography Stephen Kazmierski
Edited by Anne McCabe
Music by Lesley Barber
Distributed by Paramount Classics
Release date
  • November 10, 2000 (2000-11-10)
Running time
111 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $1.2 million
Box office $11.2 million[1]

The film and its performances received highly positive reviews among critics, and dozens of award nominations and awards at film festivals and during awards season. At the 73rd Academy Awards, the film received nominations for Best Actress (Linney) and Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen/Original Screenplay.

. . . You Can Count On Me . . .

As children, Sammy and Terry Prescott lose their parents to a car accident. Years later, Sammy, a single mother and lending officer at a bank, still lives in her childhood home in a village in the Catskill Mountains region of New York, while Terry has drifted around the country, scraping by and getting in and out of trouble.

After months of no communication with his sister, Terry and his girlfriend, Sheila, are desperate for money, so he comes to visit Sammy and her son, Rudy, who are excited about reuniting with him. Despite the disappointment of learning that he cut off contact because he was in jail for three months, Sammy lends him the money, which he mails back to Sheila. After Sheila attempts suicide, he decides to extend his stay with Sammy, which she welcomes.

For a school writing assignment, Rudy imagines his father, who he has no memory of, as a fantastic hero. While Sammy has always given him vague yet negative descriptions of Rudy Sr., Terry is frank with him that Rudy Sr. is not a nice person though Rudy naively believes his father has changed. Sammy rekindles a sexual relationship with Bob, an old boyfriend, but is surprised when he proposes to her after a short time and says she needs time to consider it.

At the bank, the new manager, Brian, tries to make his mark with unusual demands about computer color schemes and daily timesheets. While co-worker Mabel works well with the changes, Sammy is upset when Brian requests that she make arrangements for someone else to pick up Rudy from the school bus rather than Sammy leaving work at random. After some minor arguments, they start having sex, despite Brian’s wife being six months pregnant.

Terry grows close to Rudy during their time together. Yet he pushes the limits of Sammy’s parental control, keeping Rudy out very late as the two play pool at a bar. She turns to Ron, her church minister, to counsel Terry about his outlook on life. While Terry resists his sister’s advice, he and Rudy grow steadily closer. Realizing her own questionable decisions, Sammy turns down Bob’s marriage proposal and breaks off her relationship with Brian.

After a day of fishing, Terry and Rudy decide to visit Rudy Sr. in a shack in a nearby village. Confronted by his past, Rudy Sr. reveals what terrible person he is, denying he is Rudy’s father and starting a brawl with Terry. Rudy watches silently as Terry beats Rudy Sr. and gets arrested.

Sammy brings her brother and son home. When Rudy insists that Rudy Sr. is not his father, Sammy finally tells him the truth. Sammy asks Terry to move out, but admits how important he is to her and Rudy, suggesting he get his own place in town and get his life back on track. He scoffs at Sammy’s idea and plans to go back to Alaska. While at first it appears the separation will be another heartache, they reconcile before Terry leaves, coming to terms with their respective paths in life.

. . . You Can Count On Me . . .

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. . . You Can Count On Me . . .

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