AFI Movie Club: YOU CAN COUNT ON ME – American Film Institute
You Can Count On Me Film Still - Laura Linney and Mark Ruffalo



Screened at AFI FEST presented by Audi in 2000, this heart-warming snapshot of a fractured yet resolute family received honors for Best New Writer and the New Directions Award. YOU CAN COUNT ON ME also won an AFI AWARD, which celebrates the year’s most outstanding achievements in the art of the moving image. According to the official rationale,” Kenneth Lonergan surprises time and again with his affecting story of a complicated, funny and emotional sister/brother relationship. Laura Linney and Mark Ruffalo create heartbreakingly real characters in this underexplored thematic territory.

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Movie Trivia About YOU CAN COUNT ON ME

DID YOU KNOW? YOU CAN COUNT ON ME marked the feature film directorial debut of Kenneth Lonergan, who also appeared in the film as the character Ron. Lonergan was previously known for his work as a playwright, and for writing the comedy ANALYZE THIS with Robert De Niro and Billy Crystal.

DID YOU KNOW? YOU CAN COUNT ON ME was originally conceived by Kenneth Lonergan as a one-act play about a brother and sister talking about their lives over lunch. The sequence – very close to its original form – was replicated at the beginning of the film.

DID YOU KNOW? Writer/director Kenneth Lonergan and actor Matthew Broderick worked together again in 2009 on Lonergan’s play THE STARRY MESSENGER, which also featured his wife, J. Smith-Cameron.

DID YOU KNOW? YOU CAN COUNT ON ME was filmed in June 1999 on location in Margaretville and Phoenicia, New York.

DID YOU KNOW? YOU CAN COUNT ON ME marked Laura Linney’s first Academy Award® nomination for Best Actress. She has received two other Oscar® nominations since, including Best Supporting Actress for KINSEY (2004) and Best Actress for THE SAVAGES (2007).

DID YOU KNOW? YOU CAN COUNT ON ME premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 21, 2000, where it won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award and tied with GIRLFIGHT for the Grand Jury Prize.

DID YOU KNOW? After winning AFI FEST presented by Audi honors for Best New Writer and the New Directions Award, YOU CAN COUNT ON ME was nominated for two Oscars® for Best Actress (Laura Linney) and Best Original Screenplay.

Learn more at the AFI Catalog.

The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Family-friendly Discussion Questions

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-Describe a scene in which subtext guides the story, and why it is so powerful in the film. Do you feel the characters’ conflicts “in your guts” and what is happening onscreen that produces a sense of empathy?

-Despite its title, YOU CAN COUNT ON ME features characters in Sammy’s life that are not easily counted upon. Why do you think Sammy finds herself in this dilemma, particularly with men? How does her life transform because of her connections to unreliable men and how does she translate her experience to young Rudy?

-In YOU CAN COUNT ON ME, Sammy looks to religion to help negotiate conflicted feelings about her actions, which are often inconsistent with church teachings. How does Sammy integrate spirituality into her life and how does that impact her choices?

-Writer/director Kenneth Lonergan performs the role of the priest in YOU CAN COUNT ON ME. Does his job at the helm of the film production behind the camera, and his performance as the head of the church congregation inside the movie, reflect an analogy about leadership and vision? Is Lonergan giving his audience an opportunity to question and even poke fun at his authority?

-How does young Rudy deal with the absence of a father? How do his hopes and fantasies compare to his life’s realities?

– YOU CAN COUNT ON ME posits tragedy as a fundamental aspect of human experience. Describe some of the tragic events in the story and how they help to inform the personalities of its characters. As a viewer, do you find it painful or cathartic to see a movie that does not view life through as rosy of a lens?

-How would you rate YOU CAN COUNT ON ME?


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