Monday, March 16, 2009

The Savages. B+

'The Savages' is the sort of movie that takes a potentially overly sappy story and turns it into a delightful little picture thanks to its two main stars, Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman, and a superb script from Tamara Jenkins, who also directs the picture. The title suggests some sort of Comanche Western that celebrates violence, but instead, the Savages is the surname of Wendy (Linney) and Jon (Hoffman), who are brother and sister. The plot is simple enough: they're quite separated from each other, and they're both living rather depressing, but trying lives when suddenly their father (Philip Bosco) begins to lose his mind. They're then forced to collaborate in a search for a new home for Dad. It's sort of obvious from the beginning what the movie is trying to do with this plot, but when it could have become extremely corny and sentimental, it, as do most of these so called 'smart dramadies,' veers away just in time. One scene that I liked especially is when the two siblings are arguing in front of their father in the car. The camera gives us a close up of the father and his expression is one of utter annoyance, but he can't do anything about it. It made me realize how alert elderly people are, even when it seems as though they're in a different world completely. 'The Savages' isn't a perfect movie by any means. Though Linney gives a nice performance, her character isn't nearly as enjoyable as Hoffman's, and the final scene of the movie is its worst, which leaves a slightly sour taste when the credits begin. But any bitterness is quickly lost and the problems the movie has are simply my opinion. Philip Seymour Hoffman is an extremely gifted actor who has only recently come into the spotlight. Here, he shows us yet again why he is so talented because he is able to portray so many different kinds of characters. His character in this, as well as the rest of the Savages, is one you definitely don't want to miss.

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