Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Death of a Dad

A scraggly bearded, middle-aged man in a strange relationship, taking zocor, over-weight, a Ph.D., failed writer and teacher, and his sibling learn that his father has dementia and must be cared for after the death of the father's second wife. OK, it's not exactly the same circumstance; but this film brought home to me the sad truth of what happens when ones father must eventually go into a nursing home. The father is a combative, selfish, loud (and nearly deaf) character who refuses to be placated. The two children, played by Academy Award winner and nominee, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney, go through intensive soul searching as they deliver their father to a bleak nursing home. Despite the dismal reality, the film is often laugh out loud funny as it gives us a funny mirror image of ourselves. There have been several excellent reviews. Here are two:


Not Ready For Crunch Time

In "The Savages," writer-director Tamara Jenkins tackles a subject everybody deals with and filmmakers tend to shy away from: that painful role reversal when a child has to become an aging parent's parent. As anyone who saw her refreshing 1998 "Slums of Beverly Hills" knows, she brings a quirky honesty and a clear-eyed wit to the table. There's nothing mawkish about "The Savages": Jenkins's sweet and tart sensibility is located halfway between the compassionate satire of an Alexander Payne and the comic sang-froid of a Todd Solondz.

Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney are the semi-estranged siblings Jon and Wendy Savage, whose father (Philip Bosco)—a difficult, irascible dad to begin with—is descending into dementia. He'd been living with his partner in Sun City, but when she dies his kids have to figure out what to do with him. They are not well equipped for the job, having enough trouble navigating their own floundering, self-absorbed lives. Wendy is a failed playwright in New York, surviving on temp jobs and unhappily conducting an affair with a married man (Peter Friedman). Jon's a professor in Buffalo, struggling to finish a book on Brecht and unable to commit to his Polish girlfriend. Thrown together by the crisis—which each deals with in radically different ways, her desperate, shaky optimism bouncing off his emotional detachment—they're forced to deal with their own arrested adolescence, as well as their father's looming death.

It sounds grimmer than it plays, thanks to Jenkins's sardonic, deadpan humor and the superb cast, who invest these damaged characters with rich, flawed, hilarious humanity. This bittersweet X-ray of American family dynamics may not be a Hallmark-card notion of a holiday movie, but it's one any son or daughter can take to heart.

Another great review is :

'The Savages'


And more still at:


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