What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this serious melodrama centers on the aftermath of a hit-and-run accident that kills a 10-year-old boy. His parents grieve in a realistic, disturbing-to-watch manner, and the child's lifeless body is shown on the road at least three times. The man responsible for the accident also grieves -- at some points by drinking heavily -- as he comes to grips with what he has done. There's also a confrontation at gunpoint between the two protagonists. With such upsetting themes (as well as strong language, including "f--k"), the film is iffy for kids and young teens.
What's the story?
When Ethan (Joaquin Phoenix, bearded to mask his boyish face) and Grace (Jennifer Connelly) lose their 10-year-old son in a horrific accident, their anguish seems insurmountable. Meanwhile, the driver, Dwight (Mark Ruffalo), also the father of a 10-year-old boy, battles his guilt even as he covers it up. Eventually, Ethan hires Dwight's law firm to help him track down the killer motorist.
Is it any good?
Director Terry George is a master at conveying grief. But while the heart of the story -- how the two men, both caring fathers, drown in their feelings of guilt and anger -- is compelling and well acted, it's disappointing that Reservation Road doesn't delve further into the subtler ways their pain consumes them. Still, regardless of the film's overall merit, be prepared to cry ... a lot.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about how the movie portrays the two father characters. Dwight seems like a great dad, but he's only recently gotten overnight visits with his son, and he doesn't turn himself into the police. Ethan is also a loving husband and father, but he allows his grief to turn to an overwhelming need for vengeance. How does the movie focus on the similarities between them? Also, the end of the film may seem unsettling to some audiences. What do you think happens?