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Thanks to a tender, funny script from director Tamara Jenkins, and fine performances from Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney, this film delivers a nuanced, beautifully three-dimensional look at the struggles and comforts of family bonds.
All Critics (166)
| Top Critics (43)
| Fresh (148)
| Rotten (18)
| DVD (4)
Linney and Hoffman are both terrific, and Jenkins's script is pointed and perceptive, but the film's arc is a little flat.
It's billed as a comedy. You may or may not find much to laugh at.
Jenkins' brushstrokes of her characters are too exacting to move us more than a lifelike painting of a basket of fruit. We can be awed at the techniques, but walk away empty.
Powerful, painful and yet unerringly funny as it points out our emotional and physical vulnerabilities, this is a film that finds the humor in tragedy while keeping both omnipresent.
The Savages not only boasts Oscar-worthy performances from Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney as a self-absorbed brother and sister, its attention to detail makes it sweetly funny and genuine.
The Savages isn't cheery holiday fare, ... and yet Jenkins makes her film unexpectedly uplifting, in a small-scale, real-life kind of way.
What it lacks in hard aesthetics, The Savages makes up for in exquisite human moments.
We could say that The Savages is a social-problem drama about senile dementia and nursing homes, but that's a little like saying The 400 Blows is about school truancy.
One rummages vainly through tics in search of genuine emotion
The Savages is a labored labor of love about an estranged brother and sister, who have to deal with a frail and fractious father.
Exploring ground laid out many times before, The Savages is at times frustrating and at times emotional film that could have used a re-write.
Jenkins fans looking for the irreverent humor of Slums need not apply.
Heartbreaking. A real film.
Sometimes dysfunctional families make us laugh, or even cry. This one could cause a slight depression. When the Savage siblings have to deal with their father in the beginning stages of dementia and see each other more often than they are comfortable with. Considering the names in the leading roles it's not very surprising that the acting is top notch. There are also a few very amusing parts, mostly the kind of humor that makes you feel ashamed for other's actions. But to the honest, the rest of the film is a little too bleak and depressing to really warrant a second look. The final frame redeems some of that impression, but overall I wondered what the creators were trying to tell us. Life is uncomfortable and then you die?
Even with a father with dementia, I could not connect with the story or the characters.
Having not experienced any of director Tamara Jenkins' films before, I went into this film expecting something along the lines of "Little Miss Sunshine" in it's supposedly humourous take on a dysfunctional family. That's not what I got but there was still plenty to enjoy from the emotionally impaired characters.
As their estranged father Lenny Savage (Philip Bosco) sinks into senility in an Arizona retirement village, Wendy (Laura Linney) and Jon (Philip Seymour Hoffman) are forced to figure out how to care for the dad who never cared for them.
This is not a comedy as some of the critics would have you believe. Yes, there are moments of comedy but no more than the humour that accompanies life and it's irony. This is a heartfelt drama, dealing with the painful responsibility that families face in our modern day, injected with humour and pathos and wonderfully acted by Linney and Hoffman - who are two of the best in the business. The relationship between the siblings is entirely believable. There is not a lot of communication between them but what's not said, is just as important. There's also not a lot going on in these peoples lives. They seem to think so but we are able to sit back and observe the avoidance they are trying to make. It also never fully discloses why the two of them have such contempt for their ailing father. It's hinted that he never had much time for them but as the film draws to a close and Wendy's creative writing and aspiration to be a successful playwright comes to fruition, a bit more is revealed as she uses her experiences as inspiration for her writing.
A good family drama, dealing with the stuggles that are becoming ever more present in our current times, helped by subtle and very real performances. If you have the patience to invest, you'll be rewarded.
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