Media Maven: The Savages

Media Maven: The Savages

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The Savages

Laura Linney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Philip Bosco

A good indication of the merit in viewing a film is how well it succeeds in holding one’s interest. For the movie “The Savages,” I found myself looking at my watch not once but three times throughout the length of this film.

This is not to suggest this film unworthy of seeing. It just seemed to appeal to a limited target audience – either those who are fans of Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laure Linney or perhaps the subject matter: aging parents, dementia, forced care giving and unfulfilled childhood expectations.

“The Savages” is a film about a brother and sister who have long gone their separate ways. Their father, played in an Oscar worthy performance by Philip Bosco, lives in an assisted living community in Arizona. It becomes clear that Lenny Savage can no longer function independently. As his needs become greater so does his dementia.

This film will certainly speak to those who are of the sandwich generation — your health is good. Your children are out of the house and now instead of reveling in new found independence you find yourself having to care for aging parents.

Depicting the frailties of declining mental capabilities in the people who were once our caregivers is a difficult subject to portray. Linney and Hoffman do an admirable job.  

What was hopeful in this story was the brother’s role and how he did not abandon his responsibility for his aging father. Often in real life the care of a parent falls upon one adult child with the other(s) refusing any share in the care giving and decision making. In this film the character of the brother was wonderfully attentive to the situation. And realistic in his honest, if not harsh, take on reality of what assisted facilities really are: “They are fancy names for nursing homes where people go to die.”

Hoffman’s ability to get to the crux of their situation and blatantly name where his father is going and what his inevitable future will be plays well against the guilt and sadness of Linney’s character. Her character portrays the emotions and the reality of seeing your parent die.

It is this type of acting that makes this film so worthwhile especially for those who are experiencing a similar situation. This film offers a fine cast, a touching, difficult subject matter and several outstanding performances to tell this tale of aging parents.

Rating: Three Chic Stars

Jan’s Movie Rating System:
5 – Top notch entertainment
4 – Compelling, Heartwarming, Thrilling, Comical
3 – The a) story b) actors c) special effects saved/made this movie.
2 – If you are bored watch it, or wait for DVD
1 – Don’t bother. Too morose, too violent, too blasé, an enigma.