Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

Reservation Road

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A powerful Christian parable, painful but illuminating, about crime and redemption, adapted by John Burnham Schwartz from his own novel with the help of director Terry George (Hotel Rwanda). A Connecticut lawyer (Mark Ruffalo) kills the son of a local professor (Joaquin Phoenix) in a hit-and-run accident and struggles to work up the courage to turn himself in, while the grief-stricken father, frustrated by the police's inability to find the culprit and bent on revenge, hires the lawyer to pursue the possibility of a civil suit. The setup is more than a little far-fetched, but the real meat of this film is moral paradox: how the lawyer, eaten up by guilt, becomes a better father to his own son while the professor ultimately neglects his daughter and wife (Jennifer Connelly) in his obsessive pursuit. For the film to work (and for me it did), we have to shift our sympathy gradually from the professor to the lawyer. With Mira Sorvino. R, 102 min. a River East 21. --Jonathan Rosenbaum

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