One wonders how The Savages can be billed as a comedy. It’s a tale of two siblings reuniting to take care of their estranged, elderly and ailing father.
There are a few laughs here and there, but overall it’s a brutally frank look at the realities of aging, life and death.
Despite moving at a snail’s pace and devoid of all the cinematic clichés that usually accompany films with this subject matter, The Savages is a wonderfully engaging film from start to finish.
Most of the credit should be given to the two leads, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney, for their portrayal of Jon and Wendy Savage, respectively.
Linney is great as the insecure, self-centered younger daughter. And Hoffman is even better as the blunt, tell-it-like-it-is older brother. Their verbal exchanges are the film’s highlights.
Instead of focusing on the inevitable death of the father and milking all the emotions, director Tamara Jenkins offers a realistic look at the moral dilemma of the children as they wonder if their nice gesture is out of love or because they simply want to ease their guilt. It’s a mature and intelligent tale rarely seen these days. Go see it. – Ben Sim