The Savages (Jenkins, 2007)

I was thoroughly taken with Tamara Jenkins’ The Savages, a smart and affecting independent film about two middle-aged siblings (Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman) tasked with handling their estranged father’s descent into dementia. It’s the kind of film that sneaks up on you, transcending typical “indie” themes of self doubt and guilt by focusing on layered characterizations defined by what’s unsaid. In fact, we only get a momentary glimpse of the past trauma’s these two characters went through during childhood, and that’s via a staged recreation written by Linney’s character. The Savages might initially come across as a depressing take on familiar downer material, but it quickly becomes a first rate drama dealing with the lasting impressions of memory. During it’s stunning final shot, The Savages produces a glaring and innocent image of hope after nearly two hours of rain drenched darkness, a coup in itself. 

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