4/28/2008

Movie Review: The Savages

I once read that a story could be done two ways: put ordinary characters in a very interesting situation or put interesting characters in an ordinary situation. The Savages can be classified in the latter group.

The Savage family the movie focuses on is composed Jon (Philip Seymour Hoffman), younger sister Wendy (Laura Linney) and their elderly father Lenny (Philip Bosco). Each were living their own separate lives until Lenny suffers from dementia brought about by old age. Siblings Jon and Wendy then come together to go through the process of looking for an adequate nursing home for their father while dealing with their own hangups-- Jon is a theater professor with a romance issues while Wendy is a struggling playwright who is in an illicit affair.

Director-writer Tamara Jenkins has created a family drama that is not as quirky as Little Miss Sunshine and not as outright weird as The Royal Tenenbaums. There is witty situational humor and a healthy dose of real issues most people face and experience great pains and deal with them beneath the surface. The strong actors' performances seal the deal for this finely written film.

From an Asian perspective, the concept of sending your elderly seems a far-fetched idea to a lot of families and the way Jon and Wendy handled their situation could be a good cultural exposition to lot of people. The movie is just a story about taking care of an aging father, but also a story of two people growing up.

Note: Starting with my review of The Savages, I'm adding a portion in the post called "Liza's One-Liner," where my girlfriend shares her thoughts on the movie with just one or two sentences.

Liza's One-Liner: "the acting was very good but the story was sad, even if the movie ended on a good note. i never really thought of how getting old will affect me and the people around me before i saw this movie. it's scary and sad :("


Rating: 4.5/5


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