Sunday, August 10, 2008

"The Savages" and the Angst of Adult Families

Anyone with a dysfunctional family and aging parent issues (and isn’t that most of us?) will find something relatable in this film written and directed by Tamara Jenkins. Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney play siblings whose lives haven’t gone as planned and yet still seem to be in a sibling rivalry, whether it’s in obscure academic sponsorships or noncommittal relationships. When their estranged father takes a turn for the worse they are forced together, and their scenes together seem genuine, neither over-sentimental nor too contrived. There are some flaws, like most Indies I think underplaying and loose narratives are overrated (This means you Mumblecores) but I was touched by this flick, probably because it brings back harrowing memories of my own parents and family. "The Savages" seems to be a throwback to the films of the seventies when simple character studies were popular. I say keep them coming. Films like this and ‘The Squid and the Whale’ find their own pace and tell real stories and that’s a good thing. Note that Linney also played in another underrated film about siblings with Mark Ruffalo as her ne’r do well brother in 2000’s ‘You Can Count on Me’ which I’d also recommend.

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