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The Savages (2007)

Cast: Laura Linney, Laura Linney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, more...
Director: Tamara Jenkins, Tamara Jenkins
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Genre: Comedies, Drama, Dysfunctional Families
Running Time: 114 min.
Languages: English, Spanish
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
    see additional details...

A pair of siblings are forced to set aside their discomfort with one another for the sake of their father in this low-key comedy drama from writer/director Tamara Jenkins. Wendy Savage (Laura Linney) is a struggling playwright living in New York City who works a day job to support herself and can't shake the feeling that she's failed as an artist. Wendy isn't especially happy about her love life either, gaining little self-esteem from her on-and-off affair with oversexed, married neighbor Larry (Peter Friedman). Wendy's anxieties about her writing career are intensified by the success of her brother, Jon (Philip Seymour Hoffman), who teaches theater history at a college in Buffalo, NY, and has published a number of books. While Jon's life seems fine on the surface, a case of writer's block has stalled work on his latest project, and he's deeply upset that his girlfriend is soon to leave the United States to return to her native Poland. Wendy and Jon don't get along and prefer not to see one another, but an unfortunate circumstance brings them together -- their father, Lenny Savage (Philip Bosco). Elderly Lenny has began showing signs of dementia, and shortly after he takes to smearing his feces on the walls of his Arizona home, his ailing long-term girlfriend suddenly dies. Wendy and Jon have little choice but to fly to Arizona and see what can be done for Lenny, but their long-simmering animosity makes it hard for them to deal with the realities of Lenny's condition. The Savages received its world premiere at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Finally, an American film with soul by MKaliher April 25, 2008 - 7:12 PM PDT
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful
What a wonderful surprise this film was for me. I was aware of Philip Seymour Hoffman's considerable talent as an actor, and was somewhat familiar with Laura Linney's journeyman skills, yet the chance of actors so accomplished as these being appropriately cast in a film that is both well written and well directed is about a hundred to one. I suspect much of the credit for the film's success must go to writer/director Tamara Jenkins, who--no surprise--is an actor herself, as well as the casting director, Linney, and Hoffman.

If you like films about real people and real relationships, this is a film you will want to see. No one is running around screaming and waving their arms in the psychotic frenzy Southern California filmmakers seem to think is normal. This film is about the complex relationship between a brother and sister, how they cope with their absent, yet still-abusive father's decline as his life nears its end, and how they come to terms with their rather dysfunctional family history.

If the purpose of a good film is to tell a story, then this film succeeds admirably. And, by the way, it stands head and shoulders above Sidney Lumet's Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (which Hoffman also starred in), despite Lumet's claim that the latter was an artistic melodrama, and not just another blood and guts shoot-'em-up. Give us a break, Sidney: we can see what's in front of us. Savages left me feeling hopeful about the future of American cinema, encouraged to know there are such skilled artists working--despite the odds--to preserve its artistic integrity and exploit its still untapped potential.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.86)
29 Votes
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Reviewed on Show Me Your Titles film podcast
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Craig's Best Films of 2007 List
These were all the films I thought stood out in a strong '07; as they arrive on DVD I'll add to this list. Detailed opinions on each of these films can be found on my full list: 15 Best of 2007

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