Thursday, January 31, 2008

"The Savages"

"The Savages," isn't nearly as savage as the title or some reviewers make it out to be. I didn't find it to be a dark comedy. It's definitely not a feel good flick, but I'm sure many people will relate to this honest, sometimes funny film. It is a slice of life drama about two grown children (Laura Linney and Phillip Seymour Hoffman) suddenly faced with the challenge of caring for their estranged aging father (Philip Bosco ) who never took care of them. It's time for their father, who is suffering from dementia, to leave his retirement community and move into "assisted living." This isn't the Sunshine Home; it's a place where people go to die.Oscar nominated writer-director Tamera Jenkins presents the hard reality of death without a trace of sentimentality. Death isn't pretty. It is the children's responsibility to take care of things and they do -- not without the residual resentment and guilt. It doesn't help that their father is still the same hostile, short tempered, foul mouthed jerk that abandoned them as kids. And his kids get in a few stingers of their own. The affects of their lousy childhood is reflected in their inability to sustain healthy, lasting relationships. Trapped together by the situation, the siblings are forced to come to grips with these issues. There is a touching moment of compassion between the two when they share some prescription pain killers. The film is worth seeing just for the Oscar caliber performances of the three major actors. And Laura Linney has been honored with a nomination. (See Oscar nominations below.) Hoffman, however, must settle for a nomination for a supporting performance in "Charlie Wilson's War."

At the end, there is the end of a life and a hint of a beginning. The children have grown up just a bit for having dealt with their responsibility the best they knew how.

Movie Blessings,
Jana Segal

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