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Dramas > The Savages

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message 1: by Alex DeLarge (new)

Alex DeLarge | 851 comments THE SAVAGES (Tamara Jenkins, 2007, USA) Tamara Jenkins creates a believable and emotionally tumultuous tale of two siblings and their dysfunctional paternal relationship. Their elderly father suffers from dementia and is left alone after the death of his common-law wife. Wendy and Jon must connect and alter their own egocentric lives to care for their father, who didn’t care much for them when they where children. Laura Linney garnered the Oscar for Best Actress in her many faceted portrayal of Wendy and the story belongs to her; we experience most of the film from her subjective viewpoint. Her self-involved affair with a married man seems to be a traumatic side-effect from her abusive childhood as is her distant relationship with her brother (superbly acted by Philip Seymour Hoffman). The siblings bicker and argue but are able to come to terms with the predicament, though they do so out a sense of duty rather than any real empathy for their father. The story isn’t contrived or exaggerated and defines the supporting characters as real people too. I expected subplots about thieving caregivers, poor medical attention, Medicare difficulties, financial burdens, grumpy old dying man harassing nurses, etc…but the story is refreshingly absent of such Hollywood conventions. Finally, the end comes with a whimper and isn’t some big production that manipulates the audience into tears. Wendy and Jon move on with their lives but there is a sense of reconciliation with their past and hope for the future. We need more films written and directed by women because they understand not only their female protagonists but the male ego as well. (B+)


message 2: by Alex DeLarge (new)

Alex DeLarge | 851 comments They're typical storylines I expect in dealing with this genre of film when children must care for their elderly parents. It's the easy way out for a writer. Is it true? Yes, those things happen but Tamara Jenkins is more concerned in the subtle emotional examination of Wendy and to a lesser extent Jon. This is not a film about the father...it is a film about the children. She deftly avoids cliche and delivers a few surprises. Refreshing!


message 3: by George (new)

George | 951 comments Well, it ain't exactly the "feel good" movie of the year, but it was very well done and underexaggerated, if anything, on the effects of senility, not to mention the relatively compressed time frame. While most reviews focus on the two leads, and without any question both deliver the performances we've come to expect from them, I think more could be said about the actor who played the father, without whom neither Laura nor Seymour would have had much motivation. While I certainly enjoyed the film for its intelligent approach and lack of Hollywood emotional silliness, I wouldn't care to buy the DVD and watch it over and over.


message 4: by Alex DeLarge (new)

Alex DeLarge | 851 comments I must have been thinking of Michael Moore's SICKO.


message 5: by Meg (new)

Meg (megvt) | 362 comments I thought Savages was an excellent portrayal of children and their aging parents. I think it is a fear we all have especially as the parents lose their faculties. This movie handles it well, and you don't get caught up in the "poor me" syndrome.


message 6: by Serena (new)

Serena | 44 comments This movie makes me realize how tough it would be to take care of elderly folk (& their families). If I were a nurse in that situation, I'd be smothering the old fella with his red pillow (probably Linney's character would have to have an 'accident' too).

Wonderful acting - certainly a nice break from all the crummy 'action' & 'comedy' films that we've been subjecting ourselves to in recent weeks. It's the latest Rambo tonight (why Serena, why?).


message 7: by Liz (new)

Liz (hissheep) Rob, do follow through! (...watching your parents grow old. I couldn't help but think of my own parents while watching this. Think I'll give them a call tomorrow.) My Mom died of Alzheimer's and it was very difficult to watch this extremely intelligent woman fail. "The Savages" caught the effects on family members very well!


message 8: by Kathryne (new)

Kathryne (katiehepburn) | 7 comments I am intrigued to watch this. It is required reading in a class I have to take regarding the "cycle of abuse". Wonder why?


message 9: by Jim (new)

Jim (jim_) The Savages was a good hard-hitting drama. Besides the obvious medical care dilemna and the internal crisis, there were so many fustrating scenes like the Step-Mother's nurse at the beginning, the Brother's phone response, the tone of the Step-Mother's family, and how the hospital discharged the father. The acting was great. I think you definitely felt the pain of the characters and they kind of left the father as-is instead of zoning in on his own internal struggles.


message 10: by K (new)

K So depressing.


message 11: by Alex DeLarge (new)

Alex DeLarge | 851 comments Glad you liked it Jim!
Kathryne, are you studying the Duluth Model of abuse concerning power and control? I teach that as part of our county's domestic violence protocol training for volunteers and police officers. I think this movie has an accurate understanding of familial abuse patterns...fortunately, the characters attempt rise above these problems.


message 12: by Phillip (last edited Oct 06, 2008 10:37PM) (new)

Phillip | 10781 comments Well, after burying both of my parents after suffering long illnesses, the movie didn't surprise me in any way in terms of plot or storyline. But that didn't matter much to me.

It was all about the performances and the subtleties of emotional dynamics that the characters traversed. I saw it in the theater, and remember having a great conversation afterward with a friend that is facing this stuff now. I enjoyed the film quite a lot.


message 13: by Meg (new)

Meg (megvt) | 362 comments I thought the movie was something that made me reexamine my relationship with my mom. Fortunately, she is a vibrant healthy still jogging daily 85 year old. It certainly puts things into perspective.


message 14: by Phillip (new)

Phillip | 10781 comments that's great - it's so important to do that kind of work with our parents. good for your mom for jogging and living vibrant.

enjoy your parents while you can. once they're gone, the conversation is really one-sided.


message 15: by Phillip (last edited Oct 06, 2008 10:38PM) (new)

Phillip | 10781 comments word



thanks for getting the ball rolling on this one, alex!


message 16: by Alex DeLarge (new)

Alex DeLarge | 851 comments Your welcome! And glad many people have discovered this overlooked gem of a film:)


message 17: by Jean (new)

Jean Liota (gardenlady56) | 30 comments I saw The Savages when it came out, and I highly recommend it as a true-to-life portrayal of the complex family dynamics that inevitably accompany the aging process. Anyone who has ever cared for an aging parent will find a lot to relate to.


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