Films & Schedules

  • What Doesn't Kill You

  • Brian Goodman

100 minutes

Production Company:
Yari Film Group/Battleplan Productions
Executive Producer:
William J. Immerman, Peter McIntosh
Bob Yari, Marc Frydman, Rod Lurie
Brian Goodman, Donnie Wahlberg, Paul T. Murray
Production Designer:
Henry Dunn
Chris Norr
Robert Hoffman
Rob Getty, Alec St. John
Alex Wurman
Principal Cast: Mark Ruffalo, Ethan Hawke, Amanda Peet, Donnie Wahlberg

US Distributor:
Yari Film Group
International Sales Agent:
Syndicate Films International

Wednesday September 1006:30PM RYERSON Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Friday September 1212:45PM SCOTIABANK THEATRE 2 Best Bet Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Saturday September 1305:45PM RYERSON Best Bet Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist

Following The Departed and Gone Baby Gone, the streets of South Boston continue to reveal powerful stories in What Doesn't Kill You. This gritty, affecting drama, based on a true story, is told by a bona fide Southie, Brian Goodman.

Paulie (Ethan Hawke) and Brian (Mark Ruffalo) are friends from childhood. They grew up looking out for each other in an Irish-Catholic neighbourhood where small-time robberies were as common as confessionals. As kids they agreed to run an errand for local gangsters, and quickly became hooked. Fifteen years later, they are trapped in a cycle of scoring quick, dangerous money and then watching it run out just as quickly. Brian's wife (Amanda Peet) can barely take it anymore, which puts a strain on the men's lifelong friendship. At the same time, they have to watch out for local turf wars and keep out of sight of police detective Moran (Donnie Wahlberg, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Goodman).

Hawke and Ruffalo dig deep into their characters, finding the soul beneath their macho attitude. There's also welcome humour in the form of two part-time bad guys trying to negotiate petty gigs. One mobster approaches the friends to get them to kidnap a pet poodle. Brian figures a job is a job, but Paulie won't do it for anything less than $5,000 – after all, a man has to have pride.

For Goodman, What Doesn't Kill You is personal. He lived this story, and managed to escape the grip that keeps so many of Southie's men trapped in tribal loyalties. The film is ultimately a character study, and not just of Paulie and Brian, but of their neighbourhood, as well. This is a place where crime is intimate; everybody knows everybody. When Paulie and Brian rob a local dealer, they show him a Polaroid of his home, just to remind him they know where he lives. And when Paulie mouths his motto: “never do armoured trucks,” it is clear that the consequences of his actions will be personal.

Cameron Bailey

Brian Goodman was born in Boston. As an actor, he has appeared in a number of television series, such as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Lost andThe Closer,as well as numerous feature films, including Southie (98), Catch Me If You Can (02), Munich (05) and The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (06). He also appears in What Doesn't Kill You (08), which is his feature directing debut.

Cadillac People's Choice Award