DVD The Savages (DVD 1164744),
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Director Tamara Jenkins made audiences sit for nearly a decade for her follow-up to the hilarious dark comedy SLUMS OF BEVERLY HILLS, but it's been worth the wait. Like her previous film, THE SAVAGES is a sometimes-funny, sometimes-sad look at family dynamics, but this time around the sense of humor is more wry than riotous. Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman play Wendy and Jon Savage, a pair of siblings on the cusp of middle age. She's earning money in New York City as a temp as she writes an autobiographical play about their childhood, while he lives in Buffalo, teaching college and finishing a book on Bertolt Brecht. Their estranged father (Philip Bosco) lives across the country, but the Savages reluctantly rush to see him when they learn that he may not be able to take care of himself any longer. Jon and Wendy bicker over problems old and new as they try to figure out what's best for a man they barely know.
Like Noah Baumbach in THE SQUID AND THE WHALE and MARGOT AT THE WEDDING, writer-director Jenkins knows how to mine family dysfunction for both comedy and drama. Jon and Wendy tear into each other as only people connected by blood can, but their fighting feels entirely genuine, largely thanks to the performances of Linney and Hoffman. Though they'll get most of the buzz for their roles, character actor Bosco is heartbreaking as their aging father. Though his decline is difficult to watch, the actor's performance is absolutely mesmerizing.
- for some sexuality and language.
Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): 2250687
Laura Linney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Philip S. Hoffman, Philip Bosco, Peter Friedman, Gbenga Akinnagbe
"Linney continues to create wonderfully comic neurotics....[The characters] remain vividly engaging."
"THE SAVAGES is terrific -- A movie of uncommon appreciation for the nature and nurture that go into making us who we are, a perfectly calibrated drama both compassionate and unsentimental." -- Grade: A
"[A] beautifully nuanced tragicomedy about two floundering souls....A true-to-life tale told by a director and actors who've sunk so deep into their movie together you wonder how they ever surfaced."
New York Times
3.5 stars out of 4 -- "[A] remarkably clear-eyed portrait....While the film is heart-wrenchingly sad, it also is mordantly funny, uncomfortably prickly and above all, unflinching in its depiction of a believable sibling relationship."
3.5 stars out of 4 -- "Linney is an amazement, showing vulnerability and strength at war for a character's soul....With the help of acting giants, Jenkins turns THE SAVAGES into a twisted, bittersweet pleasure."
"[A] marvellously acute, poignant and witty drama....The film retains a quirky, uplifting quality..."
Sight and Sound
4 stars out of 5 -- "[A] thoughtful, mordant and exquisitely scripted portrait of an estranged brother and sister..."
"For a tender, uncommonly perceptive look at sibling relationships and a profound meditation on death and the meaning we draw from experience, THE SAVAGES is singularly funny and seriously moving."
Los Angeles Times
4 stars out of 5 -- "THE SAVAGES makes a virtue of its sidetracked setting, finding scuffed humour in the minutiae of human life, so that when the laughs do come they feel profound, jagged and real."
3 stars out of 5 -- "[W]ell-observed social comedy and great acting by two of America's best....An insightful, uncompromised look at the banal and unavoidable realities of family life."
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Philip Seymour Hoffman
Philip S. Hoffman
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