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Review: 'What Doesn't Kill You'

Crime drama features a full-scale performance from Mark Ruffalo.

December 20, 2008

Ethan Hawke and Mark Ruffalo in What Doesn't Kill you.

Courtesy of Yari Film Group

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The overfamiliarity of "What Doesn't Kill You" is redeemed by a full-scale performance from Mark Ruffalo. He plays Brian, a petty hoodlum from South Boston who, with his best friend Paulie (Ethan Hawke), falls deeper and deeper into organized crime. Ruffalo has had an uneven acting career since his breakthrough performance in 2000 in "You Can Count on Me," where he drew comparisons to the young Brando. This is his best performance since then – intuitive, quicksilver, impassioned. Co-writer and director Brian Goodman, who also appears in the film as a crime boss, based the movie on events from his own life, and portions of it have the tang of actual experience. Grade: B+. (Rated R for language, drug use, some violence and brief sexuality.)

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Peter Rainer

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