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What Doesn't Kill You
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Reviews & Ratings for
What Doesn't Kill You More at IMDbPro »

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51 out of 89 people found the following review useful:

Based On A True Story....

8/10
Author: Rob Welsh from United Kingdom
8 March 2009

...normally indicates that the film you are about to watch is almost unbelievable - this film is an exception to the rule.

Like The Departed and Gone Baby Gone, What Doesn't Kill You is an engrossing, gritty, sharply written and well-acted drama set on the mean streets of South Boston, which, by the number of movies being set there, is fast becoming as notorious as the bronx.

What Doesn't Kill You has to be the film that will catapult Mark Ruffalo into the big time, his performance is sublime, he plays a character that stirs a number of emotions from inside - easily the star of this gritty, intense tale of two dysfunctional friends.

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11 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Heartfelt and Tough in equal doses

9/10
Author: guiltron from Australia
22 January 2010

This powerful true story is brought to life with great directing and the amazing acting of both Mark Ruffalo and Ethan Hawke. Everything in this film screams "real". Realism is the key as the film captures the story of two men trying to live their life with the 'cards they've been dealt'.

Brian's life is not uncommon. There are countless men (and women) that have grown up not knowing any way of getting by in life without living a life of hustling and grinding.

This film captured me from the get go. Showing realism in its characters and making you understand their actions even if you can't condone them. The fact that it's all a true story simply enhances the impact of the story.

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13 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

This is a very underrated film.

8/10
Author: themightyredemption from Berkeley, CA
26 November 2009

This is a very underrated film. I think its a shame it never has gotten publicity. I randomly picked it up on the fly for free a local library on DVD and was amazed that I never even have heard of it. There are no gimmicks or high wire stunts this was true to life. We need more of these films to rejuvenate what the cinema has become lately. I was thoroughly impressed on all levels with this film. This could of done very well in the box office if it had marketing at the time. Sadly CGI and fake acting has trumped modern cinema lately. This gritty true to life story beats them all hands down. I give it an 8/10, simply based upon the rehashing of older story-lines together. It still holds its own charm. Rent this movie and you will be surprised how well it was done.

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19 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

Excellent film that is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat!!

10/10
Author: BronzeKeilani26 from SF. Calif. USA
9 March 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Expecting this film to be another predictable action movie, I was in for a HUGE surprise. Wow!!! Everything, the acting, writing, editing, and the music score, all made a brilliant contribution to this masterpiece which observes the childhood and lives of two relentless criminals. Mark and Ethan's stunning performance elevates the film from a standard gritty fare into an emotional, brutal, bitter realism that will hit home for so many! I would've never imagined Mark and Ethan's individual acting styles to be so forceful when combined. The two are a perfect match for this movie. Ruffalo did his homework and steals the show by giving a flawless, Oscar deserving performance as Brian Reilly, a man who feels trapped in crime to financially support his family while discreetly maintaining a growing drug addiction. Ethan Hawke was at the top of his game as Brian's non-stop, butt-kicking, pulsating, break yourself or die crime-partner, Paulie McDougan. As criminally insane as his character was at times, he was exhilarating to watch! Never a dull moment! Amanda Peet vibes well with Ruffalo. She plays the unpredictable, naive wife of a stone-cold criminal (Ruffalo)who enjoys the security of living in a big house and enrolls her son in private school. In that style of life though, nothing is guaranteed and both become overwhelmed which puts a strain on their marriage. At times he can put a wad of cash in her hand and get by with being gone half the day/night, other times he can't. She starts despising the time and energy he has to invest for the money but can't contribute enough to help keep the bills paid. This puts him between a rock and a hard place when all hell breaks loose! This is just a brief description of the film without giving away the juicy sub-plots, lol. I won't give the ending away either but I'm giving it a 10 because it doesn't get any realistic than this. I know because I've been there. I loved every thrill and emotional moment of this film and I am sure you will too

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10 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Deeply personal movie

8/10
Author: rich_au_koch from Switzerland
20 June 2009

The guys who made this movie sure have a lot of heart, the title says it all.

A beautiful movie that holds at its centre a story of personal transformation. While Paulie (Hawke) tries to play the best hand with the cards he is given, Brian (Ruffalo) plays along, craps out and eventually learns a different game. An inspiring story of what can happen when someone loves something past themself and gets a little help along the way.

The soundtrack is special. A repetitive, echoed and slightly haunting motif reflects the unspectacular, cold & sparse urban scenery. The music brings a sense of gravity & continuity to the movie, binding the characters & landscape together into 'the cards they have been dealt' as well as pacing the plot development.

The stylistic shooting acts as a vehicle for the story and quickly dissolves into the background as Ethan & Ruffalo capture centre stage from the first scene.

Highly recommended. Leave expectations at the door. This is not 'The Departed'. This is a movie with an emotional sensitivity that no amount of violence or 'leave you guessing' plot line could ever deliver.

Well done Brian, Paul & Donnie. Great job!

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15 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

And yet another kids to criminals to wake up call movie

6/10
Author: gradyharp from United States
7 May 2009

This film is yet another rehash of that glut of films about kids who begin lives of crime early on, go to jail, and come out either enlightened or unchanged. Set in South Boston, WHAT DOESN'T KILL YOU happens to star some fine actors in Mark Ruffalo, Ethan Hawke, and Amanda Peet, and their presence makes the film watchable. It is just tiresome to watch repeats an this 'bad kid' (Ruffalo) turned junkie turned convict turned negligent husband and father turned AA whose ability to make decent decisions finds him clueless until the end of the film.

The flavor of South Boston and prison and petty crimes becoming major crimes is well paced by writer/director/actor Brian Goodman. But this rambling story is ultimately boring - except for the pleasure of watching Mark Ruffalo inhabit this loser of a character. An OK movie, not a great one. Grady Harp

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7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Well acted slice of life crime drama about two friends on the bottom rung trying to get ahead

7/10
Author: dbborroughs from Glen Cove, New York
5 April 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Story of two guys from Boston. Both are petty criminals on the low end of the Boston crime organizations. As they try to make a human wage, both have to deal with their demons. When one decides to try for one last score the other has to decide whether to go along. Well acted and well made examination of the effects of crime on the criminals and their family. Stars Mark Ruffalo and Ethan Hawke are excellent as the two friends who are trying to just get ahead. This is a real slice of life film (based it says on a true story) that makes you feel as though you are in and around the suburbs of Boston. I really liked this film and its often left turns that mirror the way life is. If I have any complaints its that the film at times seems to be going nowhere. Yes the characters in a way are stuck going no where, but a film shouldn't feel as though it doesn't have a point. Still the pluses out weigh the minuses and this is a film that I'm going to recommend to friends and family who want a good crime story that doesn't follow the same old path. Definitely worth a look.

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22 out of 40 people found the following review useful:

Great Acting & Strong storyline

7/10
Author: Karthik Gowda from India
19 April 2009

I had not seen any promos or hear about this movie movie from anyone. I picked up the DVD for one reason that it had Ethan Hawke & Mark Ruffalo in it. And boy I'll tell they have done great justice to the characters.

I expected a little too much out of the movie, but I wasn't too disappointed either. Movie runs at a very decent and a balanced pace Acting, writing & directing - Yes Brian Goodman has done a good job.

What impressed me the most was the acting of Ethan & Mark. The chemistry is fantastic through out the movie.

I wasn't too impressed with Amanda Peet's acting. She wasn't strong enough for the character she played.

The best thing out of the movie was the music score. Great work!!! All in all, a good watch. Not a great movie but still good enough..

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38 out of 72 people found the following review useful:

Wow!, best film this year so far.

10/10
Author: seeksSilence from UK
11 March 2009

It's not often you come across a film that just blows you away, this film does it all on every level.

An Oscar winning performance by far for Mark Ruffalo, not a name I instantly new but a face I recognized from somewhere.

His decent into a drug riddled alcoholic existence is a heartfelt performance that shines the brightest in this movie. The visual torment he goes through trying to improve his families financial crisis mostly brought about by his own criminal activities, drug and alcohol abuse is without doubt a blistering performance and a testament to his skills as an actor.

Ethan Hawke, yet another solid supporting role that is only diminished by the screen presence of Ruffalo, but some how still manages to make an impact has a sex-addicted low-life that brings so much to the story and his relationship with Ruffalo's character.

As for Brian Goodman, well again a face I definitely knew from his bad-ass performance as Ryan Price in the TV-Show 'Lost', takes a small but pivotal role in his own penned story.

But it's the role of Director that he truly shows us a master-craft performance, there's no rush here, a perfect balance of character building and story telling. Allowing the characters to come alive and carry the story forward in their own time. Mr Goodman it seems is a man of many talents - Writer, Actor and Director - all I can say is, in this film all of them worked in perfect harmony.

Watch it now, you won't regret it..

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

What Doesn't Kill You

8/10
Author: Andres Benatar Luque (andy@globalheadhunters.net)
10 February 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

What doesn't kill us makes stronger sure. At first strength and survival may come as the ultimate gift in the end of a difficult ordeal. However in the end, what does this concept truly do for us? Does it change us for the better, or for the worse. These questions come with 2 different answers. Paulie McDougan (Hawke) and Brian Riley (Ruffalo), two thugs from the rough streets of South Boston, have been living the very life of crime that constantly plague's Boston from their years of childhood, to their true moments of their independent definitions as men. Director Brian Goodman, a known felon in his days of youth, has given viewers both a harsh reminder of his past, as well as a lesson in making the right choices, even when having very little to start with. Working here and there for the very scum that run the small stuff in Boston, Paulie and Brian continue in what they believe their own two timing, making worthless sums of money for their mentor of a boss, as well as this film's director Pat Kelly (Goodman). In the very few scores they make on the side, viewers are introduced to the very horrors of quality theft, drug addiction, as well the social destruction the life of crime brings towards the criminal's family. Ethan Hawke is brilliant as always playing a very fun character, exhibiting anger, impulsive anxiety to acquire better, and even so much as showing an undying loyalty to the man who is as close a brother to him as any, Brian. As Brian, Ruffalo gives a truly magnifying performance as a man who's whole life was crime, booze, and self destruction through the actions of his job, or just his nature to stay high and hooked. As the victim, and eventual role model for most addicts, and criminal looking for a fresh start, Brian's life is seen in two different view points as the film's introduction is narrated in his own grief stricken anxiety to make a choice. It all starts with an armored car robbery, and then goes back all the way to the very years of their youth, to the even tougher times to face. We viewers will see the lessons brought to attention about addiction, commitment to ones family, and the very struggles of deciding what is best. Brian's life has been a screaming nightmare, as he not only suffers from the morally questionable life of crime, but his very tendency to continuously destroy the life he started with is wife Stacy (Peet) and his 2 boys is what truly directs his character. His addiction to crack cocaine, and his own job were what brought him into the slammer, and 5 years of it brought the very promises men like him keep today. He stayed sober, following Paulie to the life he himself continued to live, only to witness and not act. He faced the many troubles we as honest citizens have struggled with, and often felt tempted towards avoiding, such as payable bills, and setting mature examples for the kids, even when the going got tough and it felt pointless. I say this to be true. An honest life is not a load of bull. It's a test of how much we are willing to take in this life, so we can finally say in the end that we did that, and we stayed strong through all those tough times. As fictional, and merely example based as these characters may be, Director Goodman is showing viewers a lesson of how much more rewarding it is to survive honestly, than it is to live the shameful ways of crime. As we are brought back to the very beginning scene of the armored car robbery, we see to the end as it fails miserably, destroying Brian's life even more, only to sooner realize it is but a thought in the back of his head, as much as it at first seemed like his latest temptation. Alas, the reformed felon throws it all away, living life to the best concerns of those he truly loves, and for what it truly defines him as a man. Paulie on the other hand didn't turn out so lucky. It's interesting isn't it? Whenever were sure of something we're going to do, we don't hesitate, believing we have no choice? Paulie sure thought that, and in the end he paid for it with the remaining years of his life, unlike the better half of this criminally charismatic crew. Directed by Brian Goodman, as well as written by him and Donnie Wahlberg , "What Doesn't Kill You" is a brilliant crime film, using various elements of the South Boston hood to specifically show viewers that even when times are tough it's the choices we make in those close corners that truly make us the people we look at in the mirror every morning, afternoon, and night.

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