The Savages tells the story of two siblings: Wendy, played by Laura Linney, and Jon, played by Philip Seymour-Hoffman, both single and approaching their mid-life. The two, who seem to have been randomly in touch over the years, must reconnect in order to take care of their estranged, elderly father, Lenny, played by Philip Bosco, who is rapidly slipping into dementia after his girlfriend of twenty years passed away. What follows is a fairly straightforward plot in which the two, despite differences in view, fulfill their expected duty. The film stirs clear of melodrama. It simply follows the ordeal as it unfolds, slowly and sometimes painfully.
With excellent performances from a capable cast and a steady directorial hand (of Tamara Jenkins, who also wrote the script), the story is told in between the lines, through the mundane tasks and challenges. Kudos also go to the selection of visuals and music.
While thirty minutes into the film I was debating if I really wanted to see a film about a parent with dementia, ultimately I was glad I did. It is a slow low-key movie that can stay with you. It does relay the idea that life-changing moments do not happen overnight. It is a slow process which can spur but not without seeding and a growth period.
The Savages is anything but a crowd-pleaser. It is one of these films that film critics like much more than the audience. Still, within its niche it’s a little gem.