It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
Sammy is a divorced mom, has an 8-year-old son, works as a loan officer at the bank, is making ends meet, dates a guy named Bob who doesn't excite her and hates her new boss. Terry is her easy-come, easy-go brother, one of those charmers who drives you nuts because you love him but you can't count on them. "You Can Count on Me," a film of great tender truth, begins as they meet again after one of Terry's long, unexplained silences.
As the film opens, Terry (Mark Ruffalo) has left behind a girlfriend and come to visit Sammy (Laura Linney) in the little town of Scottsville, N.Y. She glows with happiness to see him; they brought up each other after their parents died in an accident. Gradually her joy fades as she realizes he hasn't come home to stay, but just wants to borrow money. It's the same old story.
We meet Rudy (Rory Culkin), her son, a good kid, close to his mother, suspicious of Terry at first, then growing crazy about him--because Rory aches for his absent father, and Terry does dadlike stuff, like taking him to a pool hall. Sammy is bitter about her ex-husband, won't talk to her son about him and has closed that chapter.
At the bank, the new manager is Brian (Matthew Broderick). He's one of those infuriating mid-level executives who has been promoted beyond his competence. The bank, like many other corporations, mistakes his tactlessness for tough managerial skills. Brian has no empathy and takes cover behind the regulations. "Is there anyone else who can pick your son up after school?" he asks Sammy, who gives up her lunch hour so she can slip out every afternoon and meet Rudy. It goes without saying that Brian's regard for the rules does not extend to himself, which is why he is willing to have an affair with Sammy even though he has a pregnant wife at home.