‘The Savages’ (2007) 300 Word DVD Review
August 7, 2009 § Leave a comment
Score: 4 out of 5
Over many years, siblings Jon (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Wendy (Laura Linney) Savage have drifted apart, leaving their unhappy childhood behind, having forged ahead into their separate, independent lives in different parts of the country. When their estranged father, Lenny (Philip Bosco), develops a form of dementia and becomes unable to take care of himself, Jon and Wendy are brought back together to try and find him a new home, where he can be nursed and looked after before his impending demise. It is during this time that Jon and Wendy reconnect, leading both of them to evaluate themselves under each other’s scrutiny while also having to deal with their father’s slow descent into eternal slumber.
The Savages is a subtle film where, plot-wise, very little actually happens. Its sombre atmosphere, reinforced by a mellow, understated theatrical score, underlines a sense of disconnection that each principle character faces, from others and from themselves. What really sells it, though, is Seymour Hoffman and Linney, who are both excellent performers in their own right, and here they possess a completely natural chemistry of being brother and sister. In a film where little is said and emotions are portrayed more though sideward glances and stiff body language, you need to be of a certain class to carry it through. They do. And they really are perfect onscreen together.
However, while the acting is well above par, The Savages doesn’t have much to say beyond its own little world. It feels like a very personal, very small film; it’s quite touching at times, but apart from two great central performances, there’s little memorable about it. While it feels genuine, the story appears as too mundane and low-key for much to be taken away apart from a depressed shrugging of the shoulders.