Picks and Pans Review: Reservation Road

UPDATED 10/29/2007 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 10/29/2007 at 01:00 AM EDT

Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Connelly, Mira Sorvino | R |

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Starts strongly, pulls up short well before the finish. That's the call on Reservation Road, a dramatic thriller about the intertwined lives of two men and their differing reactions to the death of a boy in a hit-and-run accident. Ethan (Phoenix), a college professor, is the dead boy's father, who lets his grief turn to obsessive rage. Lawyer Dwight (Ruffalo) was the man behind the wheel, and he battles his conscience about whether to turn himself in. When their paths unwittingly cross, the film becomes hopelessly contrived. And when one of them purchases a gun, well, you know it'll make an appearance sooner rather than later. The four lead actors—Connelly is Phoenix's wife, Sorvino plays Ruffalo's ex—all work hard, but they're toiling in vain once Road takes an ill-advised sharp turn toward melodrama.

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