The Savages 2.0 stars

Savages movie poster
  • Rated R | 1 hour, 53 minutes

Philip Seymour Hoffman in the male lead, blond and bearded, as a Buffalo drama professor at work on a tome on Bertolt Brecht. And Laura Linney in the larger female lead, brunette and bedraggled, as an unproduced dramatist at work on a "subversive, semi-autobiographical play" (as she describes it in her grant applications) inspired by the works of Jean Genet, Eugene O'Neill, and cartoonist Lynda Barry. They are brother and sister, forced into the same yoke to deal with their demented father (Philip Bosco) after his Sun City "girlfriend" of twenty years kicks the bucket and her family kicks him out. These are big performances in a small film made up of small moments, a life-is-messy comedy of small (but not few) laughs. Writer and director Tamara Jenkins, not heard from since her (subversive, semi-autobiographical) Slums of Beverly Hills, seeks the universal in the individual -- the particulars, the peculiarities, the normal abnormalities (the lachrymosity of Hoffman, the mendacity of Linney) -- which is the right way to go about it. The peculiarities needn't have been so artsy-fartsily peculiar. With Peter Friedman and Cara Seymour. 2007.

Duncan Shepherd

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