SAVAGES, THE: DVD
Struggling New York playwright Wendy Savage (Laura Linney) and her Buffalo-based college drama professor brother Jon (Philip Seymour Hoffman) have been estranged from their father for many years when they are summoned to his ailing bedside. Suffering dementia, Lenny (Philip Bosco) is now on his own after the death of his long time live-in de facto, whose family want him out of the house. Confronted by the need to handle their father's declining days, they are squeezed together in the uncomfortable territory of caring for a once domineering father, facing mortality, their own conflicted relationship and their unsatisfactory personal lives.
Review by Louise Keller:
This searing drama is about the emotional baggage that begins to unravel when the ramification of family responsibility, old age and mortality confront. 'It's like we're in orange,' says Laura Linney's Wendy to Philip Seymour Hoffman's Jon, as they head to Arizona to meet up with their estranged elderly father. 'When we're in red, we're in trouble,' Jon concurs, but little do they realise, these siblings have been living in the shadow of red for a long time. Tamara Jenkins's film tackles the difficult subject of facing up to an ageing parent's mental and physical demise with overt sensitivity but no punches are spared. While Philip Bosco's demented Lenny Savage may be the story's catalyst, the film is not really about him. It's about the two damaged siblings who are conscripted into emotional purgatory as old wounds are reopened, life freezes in limbo and the future seems terrifyingly nebulous.
The Savages boasts two great performances from Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney (Academy Award nominated), who make every second of this often confronting work a riveting experience. Linney morphs into the insecure, unsuccessful playwright burdened by 'guilt care' for the father who never cared for them, and I simply marvel at Hoffman as the academic whose life is as big of a mess as is his apartment. With minimalist expression and delivery, Hoffman moved me to tears several times.
There are clumsy confrontations with strangers, and awkward discussions about comas, life support and funeral arrangements in public places. It's tough seeing the day to day reality facing the elderly no longer able to care for themselves. Jenkins has constructed her screenplay cleverly, and I especially like the use of music to enhance our emotional journey. Away from the current reality of Lenny's confinement, we dip in and out of Wendy and Jon's personal lives, but it's the bonds and distances in their relationships that scar deepest. The Savages is a hard-hitting drama about relationships, death, family unity and coming to terms with the jungle from which we come.
DVD special features include two extended scenes plus a featurette About The Savages.
Published November 27, 2008
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SAVAGES, THE: DVD (M)
CAST: Laura Linney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Philip Bosco, Peter Friedman, David Zayas, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Cara SeymourTonya Patano, Guy Boyd
PRODUCER: Anne Carey, Ted Hope, Erica Westheimer
DIRECTOR: Tamara Jenkins
SCRIPT: Tamara Jenkins
CINEMATOGRAPHER: W. Mott Hupfel III
EDITOR: Brian A. Kates
MUSIC: Stephen Trask
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jane Ann Stewart
RUNNING TIME: 114 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: April 17, 2008
RIVERSIDE SCREEN PREMIERES
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on 6 consecutive Tuesdays, starts February 17, 2015 at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.