YOU DON’T JUST GIVE UP ON THE PEOPLE YOU LOVE.
In the early 1990s, Dominick (Mark Ruffalo) is struggling to get his twin brother out of an institution; Thomas ended up there after suffering an episode where he cut his hand off. This very ambitious adaptation of the lauded novel is initially an uphill climb because of its dark subject matter and a couple of twins who have more than a fair share of off-putting personal issues to deal with. The story jumps back and forth between present and past, but we’re slowly drawn into it; a tough watch, but deeply rewarding. Ruffalo delivers two of his best performances as the twins; Rosie O’Donnell is also excellent as a no-nonsense social worker.
2020-U.S. Made for TV. 358 min. Color. Directed by Derek Cianfrance. Teleplay: Derek Cianfrance, Anya Epstein. Novel: Wally Lamb. Cast: Mark Ruffalo (Dominick Birdsey/Thomas Birdsey), Kathryn Hahn (Dessa Constantine), Rosie O’Donnell (Lisa Sheffer), Michael Greyeyes, Imogen Poots, John Procaccino… Melissa Leo, Juliette Lewis, Bruce Greenwood.
Trivia: Originally shown in six episodes. Co-executive-produced by Ruffalo, Lamb and Cianfrance. At earlier stages, when the novel was going to be turned into a movie, Jonathan Demme and Jim Sheridan were reportedly considered as directors, with Matt Damon in the lead.
Last word: “Over the course of this conversation, she starts to realize, ‘Wow, buddy, you need help, too. You could use me too’ – which is really what the overall arc of the story is about. It’s about a man who’s a caretaker, who fails to care for himself until the final moments. So when I was adapting that scene, I just wrote a 21-page scene. I’ve never been able to do that in the movie, right? Because 21 pages is like one-sixth of your running time. I’ve never been able to allocate that much space to a scene.” (Cianfrance on writing a scene between Ruffalo and a therapist (Archie Panjabi) in the second episode, Indiewire)