Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Savages

Dysfunctional families are the bread and butter of quirky dramas. THE SAVAGES doesn't disappoint in this department. Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney play siblings who are both screwed up in their own special ways. To make matters worse, they now have to deal with their father who is suffering dementia, and they face the tough choice of putting him in a nursing home.

It's a downer of a movie at times, no doubt about it. And seeing the scenes of Buffalo, NY in the winter just added to the sense of hopelessness. But the film is worthwhile, not only for the performances, but for what it says about the importance of family.

Here at SisterCritics, family is very important. I felt a real kinship to Laura Linney as she tries to help her brother (Hoffman) with a neck injury. I'm always fixing Julie's neck, and she tells me I should become a massage therapist. Apparently I have "magic fingers".

Living with an adult sibling is an interesting experience. It's like even though you are both older and more mature, there's still this little conditioned Pavlov's Dog part of you that reacts to words/actions of your sibling as if you were both squabbling kids again. This often happens with Julie and I when our discussions about doing the dishes or cleaning the floors turn into American Gladiator-like struggles for dominance.

I usually lose. Just like old times.

But I digress. Fortunately, my sister and I are not faced with horrifying decisions like whether to put our aged parents into a nursing home. Our parents are lively and young, and I wouldn't be surprised if we have to go into some kind of assisted living situation before they do. Hmm, perhaps we are already in assisted living and no one told us....

Right, so "The Savages". Was disappointed that Fred Savage wasn't in the movie. Also not happy that "Macho Man" Randy Savage was not in the film, as I think he would have been a good explanation for Hoffman's neck injury. Seriously, I totally buy the whole 'cousin Randy beat me up again' excuse.

But if I could return to the point of all this, 'The Savages' is a solid, well made film. Good script, good direction and a satisfying film. In its stark honesty there are the moments of levity, which keep you from wanting to jump off a bridge, and it is the humor drawn from the true to life that resonates.

It's good. Go see it. Just don't expect any professional wrestlers or child stars.

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