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Reservation Road 

Terry George

Reservation Road
Directed by: Terry George
“We had a nickname for each other: Nitro and Glycerin,” says music teacher Ruth (Mira Sorvino) in Reservation Road, describing her relationship with her now-estranged husband, Dwight (Mark Ruffalo). It’s a lazily written (grammatically incorrect) line, but not a memorably bad one. Because we’re not idiots, we gets what she means---she and Dwight were bad for each other. Then, Ruth keeps talking. “You could say we had a kind of explosive relationship,” she adds, helpfully. The dialogue’s ham-fisted lack of subtlety is a weakness that’s present in the rest of the movie, too. The film depicts the fallout of a fateful night on the titular Reservation Road, when distracted lawyer Dwight struck a small boy with his SUV, and then, afraid of the repercussions, sped off. Jennifer Connelly and a very bearded Joaquin Phoenix play the Learners, the dead boy’s angry, sad parents. It’s a great cast, and someday I’d like to see them get together to make the kind of movie I hoped Road would turn out to be---a subtle treatise on guilt and grief. Instead, they’re stuck in a movie based around an improbable contrivance: the Learners end up hiring Dwight to help them bring their son’s killer to justice. My, what a dramatically convenient coincidence.

Lindsay McCarney

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Vol 25, No 39
February 22, 2018

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