What Doesn't Kill You

2008

What Doesn't Kill You

Critics Consensus

No consensus yet.

65%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 34

46%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 7,211
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Movie Info

Brian and Paulie grow up like brothers on the gritty streets of south Boston. They do whatever it takes to survive, living by the code of their dog-eat-dog neighborhood. Petty crimes and misdemeanors grow into more serious offenses, and eventually, they fall under sway to organized crime boss Pat Kelly. As Brian becomes increasingly lost in a haze of drugs and "jobs," even the love he has for his wife and his children does not seem like it will be enough to redeem him. Meanwhile, Paulie plans "one last heist" but knows it will take both of them to pull it off. How can they escape the only life they know?

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Critic Reviews for What Doesn't Kill You

All Critics (34) | Top Critics (13)

Audience Reviews for What Doesn't Kill You

  • Mar 20, 2015
    "I'm sick of all this nickel and dime bullshit" The Best Supporting Actor nominations in this year's Oscars was arguably the toughest category of any. We had screen legend Robert Duvall in The Judge, a rejuvenated Edward Norton in Birdman, deserved winner J.K. Simmons in Whiplash and Mark Ruffalo and Ethan Hawke for Foxcatcher and Boyhood respectively. But, like me, what you may not have known is the latter two had already shared the screen together in true life crime drama What Doesn't Kill You. Paulie (Ethan Hawke) and Brian (Mark Ruffalo) are a couple of small time hoods who can only muster some small change from their petty crimes. This puts a strain on their personal lives and the bosses they work for so they decide to start aiming higher and branching out on their own. However, like most criminals, the deeper they get the greater the consequences. On the surface this looks like it's just another conventional blue-collar crime drama but on reflection it's much more than that. After it's opening heist scene, we are taken back to the early days and how Paulie and Brian got involved in their errands for local gangsters and the lack of any other opportunity presented to them. Slowly Hawke's character tails off and Ruffalo's afflicted family man takes centre stage and the film becomes more about his personal journey: trying to make ends meet; remaining loyal to his no-hoper friend; kicking his drug and alcohol addictions and supporting his wife and two sons. All the while, he's trying to stay one step ahead of the police and keep himself out of jail. The film works primarily on it's realism. The characters feel real, the South Boston setting feels authentic and it's anchored by Hawke and, especially, Ruffalo's excellent central performances. At one point there's a shooting (I won't say whom) but it's Pop, Pop, Pop.... there's a real sense of panic, helplessness and disorientation that you don't often see in scenes of this nature but I would have liked Goodman to inject a bit more adrenaline into his heist or robbery scenes as occasionally they can feel a little flat and not as exciting as they could've been. However, his focus on the more personal and heartfelt struggle of his characters impresses most and it's a solid directorial debut. Unfortunately, the film wasn't marketed very well and due to the collapse of it's distributor (Yari Film Group) it was released on a very small scale. This largely contributed to it slipping through the cracks. Added to which, some of the film's posters can make it look like a cheap B-movie and the fact that it's title changed a number of times across many countries done it no favours either. It's also know as: Boston Streets, Real Men Cry and Crossing Over. As you can see, the film never really had a chance. This is a real disservice, though, as it's a fine addition to the genre and both Hawke and Ruffalo deliver some of their best work while Goodman (who also co-wrote with Donnie Wahlberg) confidently displays his understanding of this harsh and unforgiving environment. In fairness, you'll have seen many films like it before and it doesn't really bring anything new the table but that's no reason for it to be overlooked. (And it certainly didn't deserve to be buried the way it was). If your a fan of this type of material and the leading actors, then these are reason enough to highly recommend it. Mark Walker
    Mark W Super Reviewer
  • Jul 24, 2011
    Based on the true life story of the film's director Brian Goodman, detailing his own exploits involved with South Boston's Irish Mob.Starring Ethan Hawke and Mark Ruffalo.A good and realistic movie.
    Andre T Super Reviewer
  • Jul 10, 2011
    Mark Ruffalo, Ethan Hawke, Amanda Peet, and Donnie Wahlberg's performances in this film make the film worth seeing. Ruffalo and Hawke remind me here of a young DeNiro and Keitel. The film kind of reminds me of the film Mean Streets. I didn't like how the film opened. I didn't like the style or structure of the film. Still the film is worth seeing especially cause of the performances of Ruffalo and Hawke.
    Sol C Super Reviewer
  • May 23, 2011
    Interesting, and worth while, crime drama about small time thieves in Boston. This is well made, and the acting is very good. A little slow at times, but the overall story is decent. Bottom line: the moral of this story is - crime does not pay.
    Cynthia S Super Reviewer

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