Like I said earlier in the week, I was completely blown by the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman. He impressed me whenever he’d pop up in Paul Thomas Anderson films, which made me a fan of his. He’s probably the best part of Mission Impossible III and I’m sad that he’s gone.
If there’s a silver lining it’s that I haven’t seen everything he’s done. I’m still discovering his roles and films.
The Savages is one of those films.
I can remember the buzz around The Savages when it was released. It had a ton of critical acclaim and having watched it, it’s all earned. Tamara Jenkins crafted a fine film out of a difficult subject.
And I can’t front, having the film start off in Arizona was a great touch, because I’m feeling a bit homesick right about now. But seeing that desert landscape did wonders for me. You’d be surprised about the power of a saguaro.
I’m always interested when films portray a part of life that doesn’t tend to make it onto the screen. In the case of The Savages, it’s how to deal with an aged parent. It’s a story that’s not necessarily uplifting, but it’s also something that’s an eventuality.
Laura Linney and Hoffman bring so much to the table. It’s fun to see Linney play a character who’s a bit less together than she usually gets to play. She give Wendy depth that another actress may not have given the character. She’s not a pitiful character or sad, she’s just in a comfortable rut, but she’s still got a bit of optimism.
Meanwhile Hoffman’s Jon is set in his upstate New York routine. He’s got it together and has a comfortable life. And he deals with his aging father Lenny with an efficiency that speaks to the order that his life is in.
Watching Jon and Wendy come together to deal with the curveball that is Lenny’s diminishing capacity is painful at times. They’re siblings, but they’ve clearly lead their own lives for some time. Watching them grow closer is part of the fun of The Savages.
Philip Bosco has the unglamorous role of playing Lenny. It’s tough to watch him both deteriorate and decide ultimately to let go, but he makes Lenny feel real. Also of note is Gbenga Akinnagbe, as Jimmy. He’s kind-hearted and placed in a difficult position, but again, this is a character who feels full.
While The Savages is a journey. It’s got some tough moments to witness, but it’s also got those that are uplifting and some which are genuinely funny. It’s a wonderful film with some really strong performances.