Reservation Road - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Reservation Road Reviews

Page 1 of 84
Super Reviewer
½ May 18, 2008
This psychological thriller paints the darkest picture: what if your child was killed in a hit and run? How far would you go to hunt the culprit? The movie, even though moving slowly, can rely on outstanding acting by the two leading men and Jennifer Connelly. While her reaction is solitude and deep sadness her husband Phoenix is angry and wants revenge. The fact that the man he is looking for ends up being his lawyer is maybe a tad much, like a couple of more coincidences throughout the plot. You can't help but wonder how it's all gonna end, though. As the noose tightens around Ruffalo's neck the viewers can't help but ask themselves how they'd react on both sides of this tragedy. Thankfully, the solution seems to find the only possible salvation.
Super Reviewer
September 7, 2007
A film that manages to capture thoughts and raw emotions of all envolved after a tragic accident, in one tragic moments, changes the lives of everyone envolved.

I've not seen Joaquin Phoenix display a serious performance like this before and felt it came across well, as did Mark Ruffalo.
Super Reviewer
½ March 31, 2009
Decent story concerning a father's anger of losing his son to a hit and run accident while the driver is suffering an enormous amount of guilt. Sometimes it feels like its stealing aspects from "In the Bedroom", a far better depiction concerning a father's need to avenge his son's death. Other times, this is compelling stuff, with Phoenix and Ruffalo giving outstanding performances. Some of the scenes are very overdone though, with enough yelling and tears to last a lifetime. The end lacks closure big time.
Super Reviewer
½ January 18, 2008
This was dull. Didn't move me at all, and just felt like a waste of time. The acting is all good and the cast, but just went nowhere.
Super Reviewer
July 20, 2008
well acted. some of the intertwining of events and circumstances stretched credibility. i think the book would reveal the psychological aspects of the main characters more so than the film representations.
Super Reviewer
½ September 22, 2007
I never would have though one of my most anticipated 2007 releases would be pretty, for lack of a better word, awful...but Reservation Road is.
Super Reviewer
May 6, 2008
Definitely an underrated film. I have no idea why this film didn't get the much buzz it deserved. I mean, it had a perfect cast (Joaquin Phoenix, Jennifer Connelly and Mark Ruffalo), a rock solid plot of revenge, justice and guilt and the director's reputation is widely acclaimed. Why is this not talked about?

Joaquin Phoenix, as in every of his film, is fantastic as ever. I'm hoping to see some of his works in the future. Jennifer Connelly was surprisingly effective too. She matches Phoenix's intensity on screen. It is best shown in the scene where she throws Phoenix's character out of the house and they were like arguing and shouting and doing a throw down of words. That was pure acting intensity number 8.

Mark Ruffalo, I'll be seeing some shiny golden statues in his lap real soon. He is perfect in this film. The scene where he asks Phoenix's character to tell him to kill himself was the money-maker. That hit the spot. It was emotional.

So, if you have nothing to do this summer, I suggest you rent this one.
Super Reviewer
May 4, 2008
This movie deserves no less then 5 Stars. If you have young children the first 40 Minutes might be hard on you. But once you get pass that, its nothing but great, shows true feeling. Only reason I will not add it to my collection, it brought back to many bad memories.
Super Reviewer
½ October 4, 2007
A bad book is turned into an even worse movie. The drama plays like a misguided soap opera. Mark Ruffalo and Joaquin Phoenix overact to the extreme. Jennifer Connolly and Mira Sorvino are wasted as they hardly have any screen time. Worse is how the film explores these characters' reactions to the tragedy that has befallen them. It never feels compelling or real. All you see is a bunch of actors crying and yelling and moping to the point where you start to become more annoyed with them instead of sympathizing with them.
Super Reviewer
April 18, 2008
How do you take a deeply talented cast like Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Ruffalo and Jennifer Connelly and then make a movie as deeply average as this? In fact, the only reason it isn't completely dull is by strength of its performances. The drama is flat, repetitive and unbelievably obvious. Moral parallels abound, such as Ruffalo's kid having to "own up to his actions!!!" for beating up someone at school; yes, it is that transparent. Not to mention the constant coincidences that litter the script. Of course Ruffalo is Phoenix's lawyer after the incident. Of course Ruffalo's ex-wife teaches Phoenix's daughter piano. Shit like that makes it really hard to immerse yourself in the movie, and it's already difficult enough as it is because of how maudlin the whole affair is. It's absolute sabotage for three actors that have built careers out of understatement.

Because of that unfortunate contrast, the three lead performances are left dead in the water. Phoenix spends plenty of time looking haunted and lost, but his jump from expecting results from the police to embittered vigilante is just not believable. He comes off as kind of a lunatic, to no fault of his own. All Jennifer Connelly has to do is cry and be a neglected wife, which is her oeuvre in every third movie granted, but I feel like she's wasting her potential signing onto these kinds of roles. Mark Ruffalo's character is shallow, characterized only by his grief and his love for his son - two common and uninteresting traits.

This movie has no teeth. It is broad, unchallenging and does little to break from its mold. Short of language, there's no reason this couldn't have been shown on Lifetime instead, so flimsy is its drama. A blatant waste of potential.
Super Reviewer
½ April 16, 2008
A very good decent film. Based on the critically acclaimed novel of the same name by John Burnham Schwartz, this is the compelling new dramatic thriller from two-time Academy Award-nominated writer/director Terry George. 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, he 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 towards his fateful encounter at Reservation Road. The accident happens so fast that Lucas is all but unaware, while Ethan the only witness is all too aware, as 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.
Super Reviewer
October 22, 2007
This movie was so well-done. Not like a steak, but like a movie that satisfies like one. It was filled with suspense, great acting and a great script that highlighted a dilema that anybody could easily find themselves in.

Imagine having to live with the guilt of committing a crime and never facing the charge. Never exposing yourself for fear of destroying your life. What runs through your mind?

Imagine being on the receiving end and losing something that's irreplaceable as well as losing faith in the people around you who are supposed to help. What do you do? Do you take the law into your own hands? Do you forgive and forget?

These are a few of the points this movie touches upon--as well as the way people deal with guilt and with grief. A life-changing event can really put your priorities in line--even though it may already be too late for that. It helps you re-examine yourself and where you stand in life.

Overall, the movie had outstanding performances by Mark Ruffalo and Joaquin Phoenix. Both of them exude their emotions with minimal effort and really make you sympathize with both their characters.

Jennifer Connelly does a fine job playing a supportive, dutiful supporting character that carries both gravitas and subtle tenderness--even when your heart is breaking for her during her outburts of raw guilt and regret.

Reservation Road deserves your attention not only because it is a great movie with great performances, but because it works well on many levels. It works as a thriller. It works as a drama. It works as a social commentary. It works well as a showcase for acting and lends itself to great dialogue and screenwriting. I'd also be a fool if I failed to mention that the movie delivers a remarkable and a surprisingly "edge-of-your-seat" kind of climax.

Definitely check it out.
Super Reviewer
½ December 17, 2008
"[font=Century Gothic]Reservation Road" starts with Dwight Arno(Mark Ruffalo) driving his son Lucas(Eddie Alderson) home to ex-wife Ruth(Mira Sorvino) in Connecticut after an extra-inning game at Fenway Park. But since he is late, he is speeding which leads to him hitting and killing 10 year old Josh(Sean Curley). Panicking, he drives off, leaving Josh's father Ethan(Joqauin Phoenix) to only make a partial identification. In the days that follow, Ethan's obsession with justice leads him to hire a lawyer who turns out to be Dwight...[/font]
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[font=Century Gothic]"Reservation Road" is a heavy-handed movie(we get the running symbolism, already) that is not that worthwhile despite Mark Ruffalo's superb performance. While Ethan becomes increasingly irrational, the movie goes out of its way to make Dwight sympathetic, explaining his actions out of his love for his own son. Although that might true, he could have left the game early and listened to the rest on the radio which would have been a sensible course of action. Whereas Dwight becoming Ethan's lawyer is not out of the realm of possibilities, it does unnecessarily complicate matters in a movie that has more similarities with "In the Bedroom," then just being about a father grieving for a son who dies in an accident:[/font]
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[font=Century Gothic]1. "In the Bedroom" is set in a small town in Maine. "Reservation Road" is set two hours in the opposite direction from Boston in a small town in Connecticut.[/font]
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[font=Century Gothic]2. Music is at the heart of both movies. Sissy Spacek plays a choir conductor in "In the Bedroom" while Mira Sorvino plays a music teacher in "Reservation Road."[/font]
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[font=Century Gothic]3. Red Sox games are played in the background of both movies. 'Reservation Road" is explicitly set around the 2004 playoffs and World Series. But why always the Red Sox? Don't the Celtics and Bruins deserve a little love, considering how well they are playing? Anyway, this could have served as a jumping off point for a discussion of how Dwight should be a role model for his son, instead of the athletes he idolizes.[/font]
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
April 28, 2012
Not to be mistaken for "Revolutionary Road", even though this film is also pretty bleak, or at least that's how the trailer made it seem. This film is pretty brutal, but is still kind of pulled back a bit on the bleakness, and yet, it's not like it matters too much, because seeing as this is Terry George writing and directing, this film could follow the car accident sequence with a scene in which Mark Ruffalo's Dwight Arno (Man, Dwight is dorky enough, let alone when your last name is Arno, which actually is kind of depressing) character, while escaping from the scene, hits a nuclear power plant, leaving us to watch, in slow-motion, for the next hour, the subsequent nuclear explosion engulf the city and kill everyone horribly, and we would still not be disturbed. Man, George couldn't even make a film about the Rwandan Genocide without it feeling like a Movie of the Week, and that film already had the advantage of that "Million Voices" credits song by Wyclef Jean, which was just a tiny bit more disgustingly horrifying than any installment in the "Saw" series. Oh, okay kids, don't worry, this film is kind of disturbing, I guess. Of course, that's probably just because it features Jennifer Connelly, and no matter how good-looking she is (Those weird eyebrows notwithstanding), you are instinctively obligated to be a little depressed whenever she's in front of a motion picture camera. Of course, when they give her room to act, it's hard not crack a smile, especially when she's backed up by Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Ruffalo. Still, the enjoyment recieved from watching these great performances, while certainly enough to cover up the bleakness, aren't quite enough to cover up the missteps.

Now, the film is a slow one, featuring a few dull spots that may be far and few between, but are still very much here, though not quite enough, because you'll be wishing for a slow tone after a while under the film's primary tone. As much as I talk up how this film isn't terribly bleak, it doesn't get that way for lack of trying, for although the film isn't overwhelmingly maudlin to the point of feeling pretentious in its emotional resonance, it certainly unrelenting in its dark tone, leaving the film to feel overbearing and rather repetitive. To make matters worse, as much as I exaggerate my complaints about the film not being dark enough, the lack of bleakness is, in fact, a flaw, in that thorough darkness would have given this film genuine emotional weight; but as things stand, being that this is Mr. Cheesball himself, Terry George, outside of a few golden moments in effectiveness, the only thing genuine about the emotional resonance is the fact that it is mostly some good ol' fashion "genuine" manipulation. Again, George doesn't drench the film in pretentiousness, so its manipulations aren't mean-spirited, though you kind of wish that it was at points, because this film is so absurdly good-hearted that anything from finding out that the victim character, Josh Learner, was hit when he got out of the car to release fireflies (Which is enough of a manipulation on its own) to the detailing of how the boy was killed, feels forced as a story piece into the film, as well as forced as an emotional resonance tool upon the audience, leaving certain aspects in the emotional resonance to feel overly histrionic to the point of going almost entirely de-humanized. This story is as heavy as it is very worthy, and while Terry George's heart is very much in the right place, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Of course, in that sense, this film certainly knows how to surve from danger better than Mark Ruffalo's Dwight Arno character. Seriously though, the film is certainly flawed, as George is a little too inspired, yet one of the aspects that make this film so good and rewarding is the fact that, while George doesn't always pull back as much as he should, with all his emotional pushing and pushing, he finds many moments where he breaks through, and more often than you would expect.

As I said, the story is a worthy one, and while Terry George realizes that a little too much, he'll pull back quite often; maybe not as often or as thoroughly as he should, but when George does pull back, the film really shines, glowing with compellingness, especially when the more mystery-thriller type aspects come into play. George makes the transition from overwhelming drama to intriguing mystery quite comfortable and organic, partially because he touches both sides of the story with mutual intrigue and compellingness that he may overplay quite often, but there is ultimately enough weight and meat to the atmosphere in the film that it's hard to not find yourself drawn in, if not rather touched at some points. Still, for that, perhaps more than Terry George, praise has to go out to our performers, even if they do stand as rather contradictory to the tone of the film, in that the film is often rather histrionic, while the performers are human and believable across-the-board, with sweeping emotional power anchoring it all. As I said, Jennifer Connelly is one to break your heart, and that case is certainly no different here, as Connelly gives a deeply emotional and enthralling portrayal of the Grace Learner character's role as a broken, struggling woman who has faced the unthinkable and unbearable, yet tries to keep it together as much as she can, only to fall back to pieces. Connelly's performance is haunting and very memorable, yet the spotlight truly shines upon leading men Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Ruffalo, and rightfully so, as these boys really know what they're doing. Phoenix is as amazing as always in his performance as a man who has faced unparalleled tragedy and no closure, feeling trapped and as if the only person who can get the job done, and pretty thoroughly, is him, and watching Phoenix subtley and emotionally portray the Ethan Learner character's layered unraveling from a broken man to a totally unpredictable man is a haunting experience matched only by the man on the other side of the story, Mark Ruffalo, who is tense, enthralling and all around powerful in his fiery portrayal of a man wrapped in horrible guilt for a mistake he ran away from and has him wondering whether he should confess and face potentially life-destroying consequences or try to get away to a life already threatened by destruction at the hands of unpalatable anguish. These two powerful actors are electric and truly take your breath away at every breakthrough, whether it be a breakthrough in tension or emotion, thus creating a pair of truly remarkable leads whose powerfully-portrayed struggles stand as one of the biggest reasons why this film is so very worth the watch.

In conclusion, the road that is this film is a bumpy one, with some slow spots breaking up unrelenting emotional manipulation that often taints the film's human touch and leaves its potential somewhat squandered, though never destroys it, as director/writer Terry George often finds points where he transcends those missteps to create genuine emotional resonance, as well as tension in some parts, though doesn't at deliver on that as powerfully as his unforgettable cast of sweeping talents, headed by Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Ruffalo, both of whom deliver equally layered, emotional and deeply compelling lead performances to help in steering "Reservation Road" in the right direction, more often than not, and ultimately leaving it to drive on as a rather enjoyable and ultimately rewarding drama.

3/5 - Good
Super Reviewer
January 11, 2009
Well acted drama. Good performances by Joaquin, Ruffalo, Connelly, and Sorvino. The film reminded me of In the Bedroom and Mystic River. The pacing I thought was a bit off. Some scenes went too slow.
Super Reviewer
½ August 5, 2008
Great performances aside this confused drama/thriller/revenge flick seems to have no clear direction.
Super Reviewer
April 21, 2008
Not as compelling a drama as I had hoped for it to be. It had the cast as well as a tragic enough premise, but it just never seemed to get its feet off the ground. Joaquin puts in a few scenes that almost make you truly empathize with his chracter, but there arent enough to keep you concerned and just like Phoenixs' character feels about the investigation we feel about the movie: like it isnt going anywhere.
Super Reviewer
November 2, 2007
Cry-on-cue melodrama serves merely as acting showcase, albeit some strong acting.
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