Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Review: The Savages

I picked The Savages based on cast members Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman. I don't generally pick movies based on cast, as it tends to get you in trouble (see Samuel L. Jackson's The Great White Hype). But Linney and Hoffman have a pretty decent track record. However, I'd never heard of writer/director Tamara Jenkins and I know that I saw a trailer for this film quite a while ago (filming was completed in the spring of 2006), which can be a bad omen. Frankly, I was afraid it would suck.

The movie tells the story of siblings Jon & Wendy Savage, who are left to care for their once abusive father Lenny, played by Philip Bosco, when he begins to exhibit signs of dementia. The film explores the conflict between their not-too-fond feelings for their father and the responsibility they feel to care for him, as well as the unrealized expectations of their own lives, both personally and professionally. Sounds like a downer, eh?

But it's damned funny. Jenkins tells the story in such a way that lets you laugh out loud, even though you feel completely miserable about how things are going. She treats the material with great respect (the Q&A revealed the semi-autobiographical nature of the film), and you'll probably hear sniffles from fellow audience members if you're not a weeper yourself. The script is tight, the acting top notch, and the chemistry between Linney, Hoffman and Bosco never runs afoul.

This movie will not be a major hit, as it's so hard to motivate people to go see something that seems like such a downer. But go see it, you won't regret it. I'm guessing it'll be out sometime around the holidays, riding the wave of holiday depression to a few more box office dollars. My imdb rating: 8/10.

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