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The Savages (2007)

"Before viewing" talks don't have spoilers, but since there's no "After viewing" talk for this one, comments may have spoilers. More»» by Randy Heffner

Is the film worth your time?

The Savages is an unvarnished exploration of family dysfunction and reunion between a father, a brother, and a sister. There are many insightful moments that well capture tenderness, animosity, mistrust, self-hiding, caring, responsibility, and ridicule. Although the film will have, for most viewers, new perspectives on their own lives and choices, its manner of exploration will be difficult for many to connect with. Laura Linney’s and Philip Seymour Hoffman’s performances are excellent, Philip Bosco’s is quite good, the story is poignant, the main literary reference is apt, Stephen Trask’s music is very good (especially the film’s main theme), and the quality of filmcraft is high, yet the unvarnished quality of the film makes it both worth seeing and, for many, hard to take. Though I would not place it among the most powerful of films, The Savages will be worth the time for those who seek to follow the film where it takes us. For viewers with estranged parents or parents with dementia, the film may be quite well worth the time — or else simply too close to home.

Wendy Savage gets a message on her answering machine from the daughter of the long-time live-in girlfriend of her long estranged, elderly father, Lenny Savage. Lenny has been acting quite oddly, even childishly. Something needs to be done. Lenny needs constant care, and his girlfriend is not well enough to give it — and then she dies. Wendy calls her brother, Jon — in the middle of the night — to enlist his help. After all, Lenny should be his problem, too. So Wendy and Jon, driven by the responsibility of basic family ties and steeped in a range of unhealthy characteristics no doubt fostered by their father’s dysfunctional family leadership, go out west to retrieve their father and do the right thing. Running time: 113 min.

Lenny’s acting out involves his own fecal matter. The sometimes strong language is not pervasive, but is sometimes sexual. Although there is no nudity, there are two non-subtle unmarried sex scenes — however, in both cases, what happens during the scene is significant to character development. Themes of death and family dysfunction are strong throughout the film.

  • Director: Tamara Jenkins
  • Screenplay: Tamara Jenkins
  • Leads: Laura Linney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Philip Bosco
  • Cinematography: W. Mott Hupfel III
  • Music: Stephen Trask


NOTE: Although Before viewing talks don't have spoilers, comments below MAY have spoilers
(spoilers are allowed in comments when a Before viewing talk does not have a corresponding After viewing talk for discussing the film)

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