You Write the Reviews
The Savages (15)
Thursday 21 February 2008
The Savages, written and directed by Tamara Jenkins, stars Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney as a pair of childless siblings who are forced by circumstance to provide a semblance of parental care to their father, who has traded delinquency for dementia.
It is clearly an autobiographical work by Jenkins, and it is to her considerable credit that she managed to acquire funding for a project that does not feature washboard stomachs or sculpted cheekbones. Indeed, some of the most sharply observed scenes are the depictions of elderly living, from the garish colours of Sun City, Arizona, to the frost-bitten Valley View, a care home in Buffalo, New York state. Although the visuals contrast, the locations provide a piercing reminder of the West's denial of death. The film also arrives at a time when every country in the developed world has an ageing population but seems confused as to how to make the transition to having an older society.
Savage père begins the story, struggling to enjoy his breakfast. When his girlfriend abruptly croaks (seemingly knocked out by the whiff of nail polish), her relatives produce numerous legal documents to justify offloading him on to his offspring.
Having coped with the swings and roundabouts of childhood without the stabilising influence of a father figure, Linney and Hoffman contend with a mixed bag of emotions as they adjust to the new presence in their lives. The narrative asks if they can heal their emotional scars by caring for the man who helped cause them. As Linney puts it, "Maybe Dad didn't abandon us. Maybe he just forgot who we were."
Both are excellent throughout, and Linney deserves her Oscar nomination. Hoffman probably would have snagged one, too, had he not also been nominated for Charlie Wilson's War.
The script has the occasional patchy moment and doesn't quite provide the necessary exposition to explain the absence of Linney and Hoffman's mother. But it's refreshing to see such a deeply honest narrative that continually pushes the theme of responsibility. It is complex and unflinching, best illustrated in a scene in which a tennis injury sees Hoffman forced to wear a contraption that looks like something from an 18th-century dental clinic – sometimes we look ridiculous when we need support but we usually feel better afterwards.
The journey to the inevitable climax is both poignant and humourous, but it doesn't pull its emotional punches. It may catch a few members of the audience off their guard.
David Fitzgerald, Professional Poker Player, London
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Ashya King missing: Police hunt five-year-old boy with brain tumour snatched from Southampton hospital by his parents
- 2 Notting Hill Carnival: Woman shares selfie after being ‘punched in face for telling man to stop groping her’
- 3 Daily Show's Jon Stewart destroys Fox News for its Ferguson coverage
- 4 Botched ice bucket challenge leaves man critically injured after plane drops hundreds of gallons of water
- 5 Friends reunion: Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow and Courteney Cox perform mini sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live
Great British Bake Off 2014: Diana Beard quits after falling ill
Friends reunion: Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow and Courteney Cox perform mini sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live
Breaking Bad season 6 hoax: Vince Gilligan has not confirmed a new series
Strictly Come Dancing v X Factor: Simon Cowell blasts BBC over scheduling war
Doctor Who series 8: Ofcom will not investigate lesbian kiss
Exclusive: We share blame for creating 'jihad generation', says Muslim strategist
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
Ukip Douglas Carswell defection: Tory MP jumps ship to join Nigel Farage
- < Previous
- Next >