Plot: Wendy (Laura Linney) and Jon (Philip Seymour Hoffman) are siblings who find themselves removed from their self-centered lives in an attempt to deal with their ailing father. The two must look beyond themselves as they deal with putting their dad in a home. Who’s it for: “The Savages” seems perfect for adults who have had to deal with putting one of their parents in a home. I can’t imagine a younger crowd will be drawn to this film.
Expectations: With a title like “The Savages,” I was expected some brilliantly uncomfortable moments between two great actors in Linney and Hoffman.
SCORECARD Actors: Laura Linney as Wendy Savage: Wendy has an affair, lies about her job, and criticizes her brother Jon on his life choices. This isn’t exactly the ideal sister, but Linney does a good job with her range of emotions. Grade: 6
Philip Seymour Hoffman as Jon Savage: Hoffman’s best moment is when his jaw is almost tied shut. For an Oscar winner, that just doesn’t seem right. Besides that, it’s actually uncomfortable to see Hoffman huff and puff because he has put on some weight. Sure, it might be for a role, but it definitely wasn’t necessary for this one. Grade: 5
Philip Bosco as Lenny Savage: Bosco is a Tony winner and a familiar face for “Law & Order” fans. Lenny spends his time angry and unaware. It is a quality performance but there isn’t much pleasure in watching his journey. Grade: 6
Talking: Again, there are little lines dropped that will work for some people about the theater of social unrest. Otherwise we are left with an Oxiclean commercial that is meant to be a joke … I think. Grade: 4
Sights and sounds: Putting a slightly senile father into a home doesn’t give the opportunity for much excitement. Plus, we go from sunshine at a retirement village to the gloom of the nursing home. Grade: 5
PLOT SPOILERS Best Scene: One of the few times Hoffman’s character was allowed to laugh came when his jaw was tied up and he was getting his back stretched. It was the rare playful moment that was allowed between Wendy and Jon.
Ending: Where is the learning? The ending isn’t difficult to guess, but there doesn’t seem to be that necessary moment of either Wendy or Jon really looking back at the past or pushing forward with the future.
Random Thoughts: With a title like “The Savages,” you would expect more bite. But the characters weren’t mean, they were just lonely, self-centered and depressing.
Rewatchability: No, unless of course Linney and Hoffman offered up a commentary on the DVD, which could be worth watching.
OVERALL Having the talent of Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman isn’t enough for “The Savages.” For the entire film these two actors deal with the reality of having a father in a nursing home. At times it feels almost like a documentary that showcases the depressing future if you are dealing with an ailing parent. There aren’t many lessons learned, endearing moments, or the feeling of redemption. There is an attempt to try to make the struggles amusing, but they are just depressing.
Overall Score: 5