The Savages (2007)
Director: Tamara Jenkins
Cast: Laura Linney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Philip Bosco
Plot: A sister and brother face the realities of familial responsibility as they begin to care for their ailing father.
Genre: Comedy / Drama
Awards: Nom. for 2 Oscars - Best Leading Actress, Best Original Screenplay
Rating: NC16 for some sexuality and language.
IN RETROSPECT (Spoilers: NO)
The Savages is a film that indulges in self-reflection, a tale of a family whose problems are uncannily similar to what many of us are facing today. Our health is susceptible to the ills of modern living, be it physical or social. So it's not surprising for the film to present an aged father (Phillip Bosco) suffering from a mental disorder, exhibiting behavior that is strange but strangely not unusual (we are witnesses to such examples very often).
Socially-isolated from his children, who are largely successful in their careers and finding no time to bond with their aged dad, Bosco's character begins his unstoppable downhill slide to mental incapability.
In essence, The Savages wants us to acknowledge the fact that reality is harsh. There will be a point in time when we will be taking care of our ailing parents, and more heartbreakingly, accepting that their death is inevitable. Challenging as it is, our response to the situation will not only affect the sick, but indirectly alters our lifestyles.
The casting is spot-on, with Phillip Seymour Hoffman (Capote), Laura Linney (Jindabyne), and Bosco giving realistic displays. My admiration goes out to Linney, who's beginning to establish herself as one of the best dramatic actresses of the last couple of years.
I particularly enjoy the manner in which the filmmakers use humor to enlighten what is probably a serious social drama. Through witty dialogue, and the possible development of hilarious situations, director Tamara Jenkins allows room for the cast to breathe, without compromising on substantial dramatic content.
The Savages is not impressive, but it's workable. Not as entertaining as the recent social drama-comedy, Lars and the Real Girl, The Savages' documentation of social life and behavioral response has a farther reaching effect.
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