24 December 2009 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Good acting but a Sad and Depressing Story: Spoilers
Any film that features Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman is certainly worth seeing, and the acting in "The Savages" is excellent, not only by Linney and Hoffman but by Philip Bosco who plays their father, Lenny, an elderly man suffering from dementia. The story line - - two grown children facing the task of caring for a failing parent -- is all too familiar in real life, and anyone who's been through it knows how emotionally wrenching it can be. The complication here is that both children feel that they were mistreated by their father during childhood.
Jon, Hoffman's character, a drama professor is less devastated by the reality, though perhaps not by the memory. Wendy, Linney's character, is torn apart by both. There's another story line as well. Jon has just been separated from his long time girl friend, a Polish drama teacher whose visa has expired. Wendy, who's been trying to write a play about her childhood trauma and seeking a grant to permit her to do so, is having sex with an older married man (more at his convenience than hers).
But the story is mainly about their search for a nursing home that will have their father. (Wendy would prefer a beautiful space that offers "assisted living" which her father can no longer manage.) And after they've found the nursing home, they have to cope with their father's demented behavior and their own emotional states. After Lenny dies, the script seeks a hopeful but unconvincing resolution. The brief, uncertain up-tick at the end does not make this film any less of a downer. But the acting is superb. It's to be expected of Linney and Hoffman. Though it's not likely that many viewers will have noticed Bosco before, he's been an excellent stage actor and, in some ways, his may be the most impressive performance of the three.