Wednesday, January 16, 2008

"The Savages"

What an adorable, bittersweet little film!

“The Savages” deals with the most serious topics(dementia and death), yet it never comes across as preachy. It portrays a broken family with three depressed, repressed members, but remains lighthearted and affectionate. The script is witty, the humor subtle, and most importantly, it boasts some of the most brilliant acting we have seen in last year.

With an Oscar under his belt, Philip Seymour Hoffman continues to demonstrate his depth. Whether sobbing alone in bathroom in the middle of the night, or castigating his sister’s vanity, Hoffman is amazingly convincing in his role. He shows us the inhibited emotion of a pragmatic intellect, someone who never gets over his lost childhood.

However, this is Laura Linney’s movie. She plays Hoffman's younger sister, a loving, talented, and slightly neurotic woman. She is trapped in a dead-end relationship. She lies to her brother, cheats on federal government, even steals painkillers from dead woman! But Linney is sweet throughout the film. Her likability and nervousness (not to mention her dimples) make us look past the character’s minor flaws to identify with her.

Linney is an underappreciated actress. I have liked her since “The Truman Show”. Unfortunately, she has not had a breakout role all these years. Let us hope “The Savages” will generate enough buzz to earn her an Oscar nod next month.

Also, the film’s washed-out cinematography is beautiful in its own low-key fashion. It somehow manages to make sunny Arizona appears suffocating, and the wintry streets of Buffalo poetic (believe me, Buffalo is one depressing town)!

“The Savages” almost hits every note perfectly. Go see it.


  1. Really glad to see you blogging in English, please consider doing this more often in future?

    I like Laura Linney a lot too, especially her down-to-earth performances in Life of David Gale and Kinsey. I'm not too keen on Philip Seymour-Hoffman though, even though he's the Hollywood darling of the moment, appearing in any film that calls for a dose of weighty dramatic gravitas, but to me his acting has a self-conscious edge that screams "hey look what a great actor I am", rather than allowing the character to naturally emerge like Laura Linney does.

    Btw, I think in one of your previous comments you mentioned the Irish film Once, I've actually never seen it, and like many others didn't even realise it was on as it was out for a very brief period last summer with little fanfare. Only now when there's Oscar buzz did people realise that there was this little film out in Ireland last year that won Sundance. I hope they bring it back to the cinemas for another run as it sounds like a really lovely film.

  2. snowdrops: Although I wouldn’t call it subtle, Hoffman’s performance is not too over-the-top in “The Savages” either. He is a good actor, and I’d rather watch a self-conscious good actor than any of those over-paid amateurs on the big screen.

    “Once” is a lovely film. I bought its soundtrack CD too. I think the DVD has been out already, you can rent or buy one.

    Blogging in English? Don’t think I’ll do it often. Writing cohesive paragraphs in Chinese is difficult enough for me already. Writing in English is really stretching my brain!

  3. BTW, Laura Linney received an Oscar nomination as I hoped. She got bigger name recognition than the other nominees, except Cate Blanchett, who got two nominations. But if Hollywood decides to vote Cate in the best supporting actress category, I think Laura has a fighting chance for a best actress statue.

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