You Can Count on Me

You Can Count on Me Information

You Can Count on Me is a 2000 American drama film starring Laura Linney, Mark Ruffalo, Rory Culkin, and Matthew Broderick. Written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan, it tells the story of Sammy, a single mother living in a small town, and her complicated relationships with family and friends. The film was nominated for two Academy Awards at the 73rd Academy Awards: Best Actress for Linney and Best Original Screenplay.

The story takes place in the fictionalized Catskill communities of Scottsville and Auburn, New York. (There are actual villages with those names in western New York's Finger Lakes region) The film was primarily shot in and around Margaretville, New York.


As children, Sammy and Terry Prescott lost their parents to a car accident. Years later, Sammy (Laura Linney), a single mother and lending officer at a bank, still lives in her childhood home in Scottsville, New York, while Terry (Mark Ruffalo) has drifted around the country, scraping by and getting into and out of trouble.

After months of no communication with his sister, Terry is desperate for money, so he comes to visit her and her son Rudy (Rory Culkin) who are excited about reuniting with him. Sammy lends him the money, which he mails back to his girlfriend. After the girlfriend attempts suicide, he decides to extend his stay with his sister, which she welcomes.

For a school writing assignment, Rudy imagines his unknown father as a fantastic hero. Sammy only gives him vague descriptions of the truth while Terry lets his feelings be known about Rudy Sr.'s abandonment. Sammy rekindles a relationship with an old boyfriend, but is surprised when he proposes to her after a short time. She needs time to consider it.

At the bank, the new manager, Brian (Matthew Broderick), tries to make his mark with unusual demands about computer color schemes and daily timesheets. He is particularly tough on Sammy, requesting that she make arrangements for someone else to pick up her son from the school bus rather than leaving work. After some minor arguments, they end up having an affair, despite Brian's wife being six months pregnant.

Terry grows close to Rudy during their time together. Yet he pushes the limits of Sammy's parental control during a late-night game of pool at a bar. She turns to her minister (Kenneth Lonergan) to counsel Terry about his outlook on life. While Terry resists his sister's advice, he stays on good terms with his nephew. Realizing her own questionable decisions, Sammy turns down her boyfriend's marriage proposal and breaks off her relationship with Brian.

After a day of fishing, Terry and Rudy decide to visit Rudy Sr. in the town of Auburn. Confronted by his past, Rudy Sr. (Josh Lucas) is incensed, leading Terry to assault him and get arrested.

Sammy brings her brother and son home and asks Terry to move out, which he does the next day. He plans to go back to Alaska and scoffs at Sammy's suggestion to remain in town and get his life back on track. While at first it appears the separation will be another heartache, they reconcile before Terry leaves, coming to terms with their respective lifestyles.


  • Laura Linney as Samantha "Sammy" Prescott
  • Mark Ruffalo as Terry Prescott
  • Matthew Broderick as Brian Everett
  • Jon Tenney as Bob Steegerson
  • Rory Culkin as Rudy Prescott
  • J. Smith-Cameron as Mabel
  • Josh Lucas as Rudy (Kolinsky) Sr.
  • Gaby Hoffmann as Sheila Seidleman (Terry's girlfriend)
  • Adam LeFevre as Sheriff Darryl
  • Kenneth Lonergan as Ron (the priest)
  • Nina Garbiras as Nancy Everett
  • Kim Parker as Rudy Sr.'s girlfriend


The film was primarily shot in and around Margaretville, New York in the Catskill Mountains circa June 1999 (posters for Margaretville's 4th of July "Field Days" can be seen in shop windows).

While the bank exteriors were filmed at Margaretville's NBT bank, the interiors were filmed in another bank closer to New York City since NBT considered interior filming a security risk.

The scenes where Rudy Jr. walks home in the rain were filmed with the assistance of the Margaretville Fire Department which used their trucks and hoses to create the rain.

Many outdoor scenes away from the Village"?most notably the fishing trip"?were filmed in Phoenicia, New York. The cemetery seen in the film is not the Village's"?which cannot be seen from the road"?rather it is a smaller cemetery four miles outside the village on Route 30.


Critical reaction to You Can Count on Me has been universally positive, earning 95% on Rotten Tomatoes.


AFI Fest (2000)

  • Best New Writer
  • New Directions Award
Boston Society of Film Critics Award (2000)

  • Best New Filmmaker
Humanitas Prize (2001)

  • Feature Film Category
Independent Spirit Awards (2001)

  • Best First Feature
  • Best Screenplay
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards (2000)

Montreal World Film Festival (2000)

  • Prize of the Ecumenical Jury - Special Mention
  • Best Actor: Mark Ruffalo
National Board of Review of Motion Pictures (2000)

  • Special Achievement Award
National Society of Film Critics Awards (2001)

New York Film Critics Circle Awards (2000)

Satellite Awards (2001)

  • Best Screenplay, Original
Sundance Film Festival (2000)

  • Grand Jury Prize, Dramatic
  • Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award
Toronto Film Critics Association Awards (2000)

Writers Guild of America Award (2001)

  • Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen

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