Friends & Family
Brian Reilly (Mark Ruffalo) and Paulie McDougan (Ethan Hawke) have been friends since childhood and now as young men in South Boston they do various jobs for a local boss, always looking to do more and move up the ranks. But their life of crime has led to Brian both drinking too much and doing drugs whilst not being there for either his wife Stacy (Amanda Peet) or their children. But when events lead to Brian cleaning up his act and not only he their for Stacy but going straight he finds it difficult especially when Paulie shows up with plans for an armoured truck robbery which could solve all his financial problems.
Let me just start by saying that "What Doesn't Kill You" starts with the armoured truck robbery about to go down with guns just starting to blaze. Then we jump back in time and we learn all about this close bond between Brian and Paulie whilst Brian has been a shit towards his wife with his drinking and drug taking. This probably all takes just half an hour but it feels like it has taken an age and culminates with events which lead to Brian trying to change his ways. Whilst this is going on we see how Stacy is affected by Brian's ways to the point that her friends tell her she should leave but she knows she would have nothing if she did and deep down she loves Brian.
But of course what this is all building up to is Brian facing a tough choice having struggled with going straight does he love Stacy enough to see it through or will his bond to Paulie be so strong that he will back him up in a robbery? The trouble is that whilst director Brian Goodman certainly aims for a gritty feel to this with a touch of the rawness when it comes to street scenes it failed to really grab me and came across more like one of those movies which works for those who have been in a similar situation where they faced a choice between a friend and their old life and the chance at something different.
Despite not working for me "What Doesn't Kill You" has a well chosen cast with Mark Ruffalo bringing a lot of likeability to the role which allows us to get behind him as he tries to straight and faces tough choices. This is backed up by a beautiful performance from Amanda Peet as his wife Stacy as she brings out a sense of how much she loves Brian, in fact it reminded me a little of Lorraine Bracco's performances in "Goodfellas".
What this all boils down to is that whilst "What Doesn't Kill You" really grab me it is a nicely made movie which thrives because of the acting with Mark Ruffalo really doing a nice job of delivering the light and dark of his character.