"The Savages" is a film about a certain kind of relationship (brother and sister) and about being a certain age (late thirties/early forties). It’s also about being a certain type of person, one who finds his or her raison d’etre in the sort of art that has never troubled the radar screens of everyday people—in this case the “theatre of social unrest”—and who is not quite equipped to function in the world run according to everyday criteria. I related to all that! In fact, the character of the brother, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, reminded me not only of people I’ve known, but also of people that I’ve on occasion been. (“It looks like the Unabomber lives here”, comments the sister, played by Laura Linney, when she first espies her brother’s book-strewn quarters). He’s a disheveled academic teaching Brecht at what appears to be a community college; at 39, she’s still temping at dead-end cube jobs while writing plays on the side. The story begins when the sibs are suddenly called on to deal with the onset of their estranged father’s Parkinson’s. The father, played by Philip Bosco, is a product of the New York tenements; he’s sour and miserable and he was a lousy father to boot, crossing the line that separates New York-volatile from negligent rageaholic. How a man of no sensitivity whatsoever somehow managed to produce kids who grew up to love theatre is one of the life mysteries plumbed by this film. They must have found something there they needed.
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- Feb 20, 2008
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