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'Reservation Road'

A lawyer (Mark Ruffalo) speeding on a dark road hits a small child, panics and drives away. Seeking legal help in tracking down the hit-and-run driver, the child's father (Joaquin Phoenix) ends up hiring ... you guessed it, the hit-and-run driver.

Losing children is a bit of a theme this fall, what with Gone Baby Gone opening the same day as this film, plus a pair of acclaimed recent dramas (Into the Wild and In the Valley of Elah) that chronicle the disappearance of adult children and how it affects the parents left behind.

This particular iteration of the story is well acted and reasonably affecting, though as the plot piles up coincidences to link the two men in a tight dance of guilt and culpability, its credibility suffers.

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Bob Mondello, who jokes that he was a jinx at the beginning of his critical career — hired to write for every small paper that ever folded in Washington, just as it was about to collapse — saw that jinx broken in 1984 when he came to NPR.