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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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54 out of 92 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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15 out of 16 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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17 out of 22 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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14 out of 18 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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21 out of 32 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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17 out of 26 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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23 out of 41 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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39 out of 73 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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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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14 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

Fascinating and well acted movie spoiled by poor pacing halfway through

7/10
Author: nascent from England
7 May 2009

I had no knowledge of the existence of this movie until the day I saw it, so when I started it I was pretty blown away by it. The gritty drama and really well told story of these 2 boys/men is fascinating, very well acted and initially very interesting. The score is beautiful, as is the initial pacing and storytelling. I was thinking this is one of the best movies I've seen for months, and then something odd happened.. the pacing shifted, suddenly long beautifully acted scenes were becoming clips of a few minutes here a sentence there, the character development that was so successful early on suddenly seemed to be redundant as stories become pointless and predictable. It's almost as though the movie changed to a different director and editor half-way through.

I found myself caring less and less about the characters as they became victims of over-editing. The only 2 scenes that lasted more than a couple of minutes in the last third that had any 'substance' were overly dramatic if not soppy father-son scenes where all other members of the family become low priority.

It's really quite a shame, I was enjoying the film so much during the first half, I was willing to give this film a 9 if only a little more of the plot would begin to unravel itself, but instead I got less plot, less character focus and more "this is bad" and "this is good" moments... It's a true pity as I shan't be recommending this movie due to it's second half.

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