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Mixed or average reviews - based on 29 Critics What's this?

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7.2

Generally favorable reviews- based on 14 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: Based on the critically acclaimed novel of the same name by John Burnham Schwartz, this is a compelling new dramatic thriller. A tale of anger, revenge, and great courage, the film follows two fathers as their families and lives converge. On a warm September evening, college professor Ethan Learner, his wife Grace, and their daughter Emma are attending a recital. Their 10-year-old son Josh is playing cello--beautifully, as usual. His younger sister looks up to him, and his parents are proud of their son. On the way home, they all stop at a gas station on Reservation Road. There, in one terrible instant, Josh is taken from them forever. On a warm September evening, law associate Dwight Arno and his 11-year-old son Lucas are attending a baseball game. Their favorite team, the Red Sox, is playing, and hopefully heading for the World Series. Dwight cherishes his time spent with Lucas. Driving his son back to his ex-wife, Lucas' mother Ruth Wheldon, Dwight heads toward his fateful encounter at Reservation Road. The accident happens so fast that Lucas is all but unaware, whereas Ethan--the only witness--is all too aware when a panicked Dwight speeds away. The police are called, and an investigation begins. Haunted by the tragedy, both fathers react in unexpected ways, as do Grace and Emma. As a reckoning looms, the two fathers are forced to make the hardest choices of their lives. (Focus Features) Collapse
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 29
  2. Negative: 4 out of 29
  1. There's a kind of tough beauty to this deft, satisfying thriller.
  2. Reviewed by: Josh Rosenblatt
    67
    Connelly, in particular, soars as the nail-biting mother trying desperately to put on a brave face and keep her family together, while Ruffalo and Phoenix, two of Hollywood’s best brooders, are excellent as wounded young fathers.
  3. 63
    It's hard to watch two fine actors working themselves into a lather for so little reward.
  4. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    50
    The kind of movie that moves you to tears even as you resent the manipulative mechanics of the story.
  5. The result is that, rather than tragedy, this unfolds like a plodding morality tale in which Wrath and Cowardice play out their respective parts.
  6. Paints itself into a corner, creating a static situation in which everyone is either stymied or wracked by indecision, leaving the movie free for its two male leads to wallow in self-pity, remorse and bad behavior.
  7. A deadly earnest and deadly dull psychological thriller.

See all 29 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 7
  2. Negative: 1 out of 7
  1. MorganW.
    Jan 31, 2009
    10
    I think this is one of the best films of 2007. I disagree with those who think that there is no redemption in this story. It rivals films like The Believer in its portrayal of internal conflict, and it is a beautiful (and heartbreaking) study of morality. This film is undoubtedly worth seeing. Expand
  2. Dec 14, 2010
    10
    The only criterium I have for liking or not liking a movie is: do I keep watching ? This one, I definitely did keep watching. The acting is superb, the unfolding drama and conflict are intense. I wonder why these movies never really make it to the big screen... Expand
  3. TrevorD.
    Apr 18, 2008
    8
    Brilliant story line.
  4. JayH.
    Mar 29, 2008
    6
    Starts out very promising, but there are too many coincidences and the pace slows. Still, I always found it interesting, even though it is improbable. Well acted. Expand
  5. ChadS.
    Apr 10, 2008
    6
    There's a small minority out there who felt that Todd Field's award-winning "In the Bedroom" went off the rails in the final act when the father of the dead goes after his son's attacker. Some believe, me included, that the mild-mannered father's pro-active approach towards justice was antithetical to his character, therefore, the ensuing premeditated violence seemed to have come out of the blue. In "Reservation Road", an irate father doesn't take the high road either, but you can see the payback from a mile away, and it might(or might not) be a bitch. "Reservation Road" is not a flawed film. It's a film with flaws, but not fatally so. The performances bear the weight of the many plot contrivances. In particular, Jennifer Connelly, who obliterates her sexpot past in a crying scene motivated by that most heartbreaking of epiphanies-I'm responsible for my child's death. She's not, and as the story progresses, Grace(Connelly) seems to have arrived at that conclusion. But here's the problem. While "Reservation Road" is busy showing us how Ethan(Joaquin Phoenix) reaches a mindset by which Dwight's days are suddenly numbered, the film neglects to detail Grace's inroads to the halfway house of her own making. Grace still mourns her son, but at some undocumented juncture, she stopped blaming herself. Connelly is so good here, you'll wish that "Reservation Road" didn't veer away from her road to recovery. The film takes leave of that bumpy thoroughfare and runs smack dab into another artery, Ethan's artery. When the boy dies, Emma(Elle Fanning) is consoled by her father. She's her father's daughter. Sean(Josh Learner) was his mother's son. Her pain, not his, should always be the focal point of "Reservation Road". Expand
  6. TonyB.
    Jun 17, 2008
    5
    What could have and should have been a fine film is not. The main problem here is that the two nominal leads are its weakest links. Joaquin Phoenix is not able for a minute to evoke the sympathy and compassion we should feel for him. Grief is not depicted well when it becomes obsessive. Mark Ruffalo is so obviously the "bad" guy that one wonders if the people around him are in a coma that prevents them from seeing him for what he is. Jennifer Connolly's role should have been more fleshed out, especially since she has a clear grasp of what it is all about. Expand
  7. PaulW.
    Apr 2, 2008
    0
    2 hours of the most ridiculous melodrama with no end in sight which becomes progressingly worse after half way. A hit and run tale is a sad one but surely this doesn't justify bludgeoning the audience with overwrought drama scene after scene after scene. While there is practically no story progression to speak of and no development in the 2 dimensional characters, the leaden script makes every bit of acting feel completely overdone. Any sympathy for the characters? forget it, they are merely cardboard soap-personae who don't exist in the real world and who soon become highly annoying as such. Cringeworthy at best, this lackluster storytelling-void will be forgotten soon and rightfully so. Do yourself a favor and see something else Expand

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