Affecting and absorbing, if a bit of a bummer, this drama's makes you care about the troubles of its characters without gimmicks or cliched plotlines about crime or mayhem. I Know This Much Is True certainly begins with a bang: While late '80s library patrons hunt for books and use the microfiche machine, Thomas rocks back and forth at a library table, reciting vaguely Biblical gibberish before raising an axe. People flee, scream -- and the axe comes down, and now Dominick has one more terrible way he's connected to his difficult yet lovable twin brother. That's far from Dominick's only tragic issue, though, and as we get to know him, the camera often zooms in to examine Ruffalo's expressive face in extreme sympathetic closeup.
He's plenty good enough to bear the scrutiny, and so is the rest of the cast; so good, in fact, that it becomes a temptation to not think much about what we're seeing, but just to let the fantastic performances wash over you. Rob Huebel, generally cast only in comedic roles, is appealing as Dominick's best pal, an insecure actor. Kathryn Hahn is reliably on-note as Dominick's ex-wife (and the holder of one of Dominick's saddest secrets). Archie Panjabi has crackling chemistry with Ruffalo as the therapist that begins helping Dominick unravel the many strands of his trauma. In an era when dark dramas tend to involve antiheroes and over-the-top scenarios, a downbeat character study is a hard sell, but I Know This Much Is True is rendered so skillfully that viewers who pause to give it a look won't be able to stop looking.