Monday, April 21, 2008

Savages, The

DVD Review by Kam Williams

Headline: DVD Features Laura Linney’s Oscar-Nominated Performance in Dysfunctional Family Drama

Alzheimer’s patient Lenny Savage (Philip Bosco) was living in an upscale assisted living community with his common-law wife, Doris (Rosemary Murphy), when she suddenly dropped dead. Relying on a non-marital agreement signed years prior, her heartless heirs decide to kick him out of the Arizona condo which was solely in their mother’s name.
Consequently, the burden of finding a retirement home capable of caring for someone whose senility has him smearing excrement on the walls suddenly falls to Lenny’s children living halfway across the country. Neither Jon (Philip Seymour Hoffman) nor Wendy (Laura Linney) is really ready to take on the unanticipated responsibility because both of them are already dealing with serious issues of their own.
Wendy is a struggling Greenwich Village playwright who supports herself by doing temp work. Her love life isn’t any better, as she’s stuck in a self-destructive affair with a married man (Peter Friedman). Jon, meanwhile, a literature professor, is agonizing over whether to wed his Polish girlfriend (Cara Seymour) before her visa expires.
So, when they venture to Sun City to rescue their ailing their father, they struggle to keep their emotional baggage on a back burner. Arriving at a compromise, they agree to bring Lenny to Buffalo where Jon teaches, and to place him in an affordable nursing home. Wendy sticks around town, which means she and her brother will now have ample opportunities to bicker with each other over their respective writing careers and dysfunctional romantic relationships.
So unfolds The Savages, a maudlin, slice-of-life drama for which Laura Linney landed her third Oscar nomination. If only the film’s prevailing tone were optimistic rather than funereal, then there might be more of a reason to recommend this downer about a couple of middle-aged adolescents acting out as their father slowly wastes away.

Very Good (3 stars)
Rated R for sexuality and profanity.
Running time: 114 minutes
Studio: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
DVD Extras: Extended scenes, cast and filmmaker interviews, “Behind the Scenes” photo gallery and Fox previews.

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