I happened to see this DVD on sale and read that Joaquin Phoenix was in it so I thought I’d rent it with no idea as to what it was about. It was directed by Terry George and starring Joaquin Phoenix, Jennifer Connelly, Mark Ruffalo, and short appearances by Mira Sorvino.
The story starts calmly with Ethan Learner (Phoenix) and his wife Grace Learner (Connelly) along with their daughter Emma proudly enjoying their 10 year old son Josh playing the cello at his recital. On the other side of town you see attorney Dwight Arno (Ruffalo) and his son Lucas attending a baseball game to cheer for their favorite team the Red Sox in hopes that they make it to the World Series. On the way back home from the recital the Learner family decides to stop at a gas station on Reservation Road to rest and grab some stuff. While the family is busy at the gas station Josh decides to release the lightening bugs that his sister caught in a jar that night by the road.
While Lucas is sleeping on the ride back from the Red Sox game Dwight receives a call from his ex-wife (Mira Sorvino) who is frantic because he is late bringing back their son but he struggles to answer the phone and as he struggles he realizes he ran over someone.
Ethan witnesses his son getting run over and catches a quick glimpse of the perpetrator before he takes off. The family calls for help but it’s too late for Josh, he dies and the hunt for the person responsible begins.
Dwight battles with what he’s done back home. He knows that if he turns himself in he won’t be able to see his son for a long time but at the same time the guilt might consume him. He decides to lay low, hiding his car in his garage and keeping a low profile.
Ethan becomes obsessed with catching the person responsible which starts putting a strain on his marriage. He spends his nights looking for help and support online and straining to remember anything that he saw or heard that day.
Living in the same community both Dwight’s and Ethan’s lives intertwine and puts a darker cloud around Dwight who now after seeing the pain he’s cost the family has to come to a decision of weather to keep it a secret or to face the demon before the family finds out the truth.
I think the director wanted to tell a simple, basic story and it works here. There was nothing thrilling or explosive about the film, it was a bit like a bedtime story…keeps you interested without disturbing your thoughts. The characters seemed realistic and so did the story, it made me think that it could possibly happen that way. I have never seen a movie with this kind of content before and I liked it because of that. The film let’s you peek into the lives of the victim and the perpetrator which Mark Ruffalo plays very well. I enjoyed the film but I wouldn’t recommend it for those people that need action packed films.