Sundance Review: The Savages
by Alex Billington
January 30, 2007
When you think of the name The Savages, you'll think of maybe a brutal drama - or at least I did. However, The Savages is a dramatic comedy that is actually about a family - a brother and sister and their aging father - who's surname is Savage. Clinically depressed Wendy (Laura Linney) and her PhD-toting brother John (Philip Seymour Hoffman) must come together to take care of their aging father Lenny (Philip Bosco), who was recently diagnosed with dementia. The best part of all is that it's actually a fantastic film. In the same way that Michael Douglas and Evan Rachel Wood were irreplaceable choices in the other Sundance film King of California, Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman are irreplaceable in The Savages.
Although the subject matter is very sad, director and writer Tamara Jenkins is able to define what is a very comedic and enjoyable film that is not at all depressing. A line from the film asks, "what's the difference between plot and narrative?" And even when that question is asked in the film, The Savages still exceeds and achieves. Hoffman is just incredible - he delivers never-ending great comedic moments, even better than actors at Sundance who are comedians by default. Laura Linney even looks really great physically too, especially for a character who is supposed to be 39 years old. The Savages is simply a film that features fantastic filmmaking and a great cast, which is all that's needed to turn out excellent entertainment. I may even dare to compare it to Little Miss Sunshine in being so strikingly hilarious, and hope that it's recognized as such when and if it gets a theatrical release.
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