*Originally published on the ESFS blog on November 12, 2008.
THE SAVAGES (2007; Dir.: Tamara Jenkins)
By Daniel Barnes
I have long been a sucker for dysfunctional family dramedies, and this story of immature middle-aged siblings re-connecting over their abusive father’s dementia is no different. It certainly helps when you have actors as gifted as Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman pouring their guts into writer-director Jenkins’ sharp material. They play Wendy and Jon Savage (the names are significant – the two of them are stuck in Peter Pan-like denial of their own adult shortcomings), both of them academia-entrenched losers forced to accept familial responsibility for their father, whose denial of the same consideration initially arrested their adolescence. The script is smart and witty, the direction is sensitive without being syrupy or overly quirky, and the performances by all three leads (including Philip Bosco as the father) are brilliant.