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Movie Review

Reservation Road a.k.a. “Eine Sekunde nur”

MPAA Rating: R for language and some disturbing images

Reviewed by: Misty Wagner

Very Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Thriller, Drama
1 hr. 42 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
October 19, 2007
DVD release: April 8, 2008
Copyright, Focus Features
Copyright, Focus Features
Copyright, Focus Features
Copyright, Focus Features
Copyright, Focus Features
Copyright, Focus Features
Copyright, Focus Features
Relevant Issues
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About murder in the Bible

Anger in the Bible


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Featuring: Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Connelly, Mira Sorvino, Eddie Alderson, Armin Amiri, Rocco Anacarola, Michael Anzalone, David Anzuelo, Antoni Corone, Sean Curley, Linda Dano, Elle Fanning, Gary Kohn, Rachel Konstantin, Anthony Molinari, Andrew Nardi, Nikki Nardi, Raum-Aron, John Rothman, Kerry Scanlan, Reyna Shaskan, John Slattery, Stephanie Weyman
Director: Terry George
Hotel Rwanda,” “In the Name of the Father,” “Some Mother’s Son”
Producer: A. Kitman Ho, Dean Leavitt, Gina Resnick, Nick Wechsler
Distributor: Focus Features

This film is based on a novel by John Burnham Schwartz.

How often do we go through circumstances in our lives with the privilege of seeing both sides of the spectrum? So often we are so consumed in our own details and miseries that the “other side” automatically becomes the enemy.

“Reservation Road” is the story of a fatal hit and run accident as seen from the perspective of the driver and the victims family. Meant, I suspect, to grey both sides and widen the minds of viewers—instead it likely bores or confuses them…

Ethan Learner (Joaquin Phoenix) is shown to have an amazing life. As a respected professor he has a beautiful wife (Jennifer Connely), an amazing home and two adoring children. The beginning of the film shows us clips and montages of a day in the life of their family.

Interwoven throughout the scenes of the Learner family we see clips of Dwight Arno (Mark Ruffalo) and his son Lucas at a Red Sox game. It doesn’t take many scenes centered around Dwight to learn that he is a bit of a mess of a man who has recently earned visitation back with his son. Although it’s clear that he and his son love each other, his relationship with his son’s mother is an entirely different story and alludes to his irresponsible past.

When Dwight hits and kills Ethan’s son, and then flees the scene of the crime, it’s pretty easy to point fingers at the “good” side, and the “bad” side—yet as the story unfolds things become twisted and get far more hazy and complicated.

This film does touch on redemption, which is always worthy to note.

It’s path to getting there, however, is long and rocky.

Objectionable language is absent throughout most of the film, but during the spurts where it’s present, it is his heavy. The characters in this film are all grief driven and so there are scenes of passion ranging all of the way from sexual (brief foreplay scene) to violent. At one point there is some minimal gun violence.

For the most part, I enjoyed “Reservation Road.” I don’t feel it was less than average, and with below average films being released all of the time I did find myself a bit disappointed that this went practically straight to DVD.

Though the Bible talks often of things being hot or cold, black or white—it is often necessary for believers to take an empathetic look at the lives, choices and motivations of all people. As with the character of Dwight Arno, his crime is horrible. It’s tragic. What he did was very wrong. Yet, as we learn more about the man and the reasons for his departure that fateful night, our hearts tend to expand a bit.

I wouldn’t necessarily encourage everyone to go rent this film, however, if it does nothing else but demonstrate that there is always a larger picture in nearly every situation, than it’s served a purpose.

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Moderate

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Movie Critics
…A surprising amount of suspense is created… George’s direction is taut and authoritative…
—Bruce Feld, Film Journal International
…The emotional turbulence of a couple’s sudden loss gets a shallow examination by an unimaginative script and direction. …
—Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times
…an intense and melancholy thriller that proposes vigilantism as a way of releasing pent-up grief and achieving justice…
—Carrie Rickey, Philadelphia Inquirer
…‘Reservation Road’ tries rather feebly to examine complex questions of morality. It does a better job of capturing a sense of shattering grief, but it gets too caught up in plot contrivances and coincidences to be believable. …
—Claudia Puig, USA Today