by HELEN GEIB
I take a special interest in movies about the relationship between adult siblings where the siblings are sister and brother. This is an interest that makes a negligible demand on my time. There aren’t many movies made about adult sibling relationships to begin with, and nearly all of those feature brother-brother or sister-sister relationships. You can imagine my delight when The Savages opened last year, and my even greater delight when it proved to be an excellent film.
The Savages stars Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman as a sister and brother unexpectedly faced with the crisis of caring for their estranged father when he becomes incapacitated by dementia. As my plot description suggests, it’s a drama, but an understated drama leavened by omnipresent wry humor. Both comedy and drama arise naturally from the rich characterizations, abetted by skillful filmmaking and grounded in a situation at once universal in its essentials and unique in its particulars.
My special interest was more than satisfied with the wonderfully credible and sympathetic depiction of the adult sister-brother dynamic. I really liked the rest of the movie, too, and it’s not necessary to share my particular preoccupation to enjoy this film just as much as I did. (The Savages was an even bigger hit with the rest of the Commentary Track team, making it onto Rishi and Geoff’s top ten films lists where it narrowly missed inclusion on mine.) The script is perceptive and witty, and Linney’s and Hoffman’s performances rank among their best work.
If you missed The Savages in theaters, and judging by its box office returns you probably did, take my recommendation and pick it up on DVD.
Other new releases this week: Charlie Wilson’s War, Cloverfield, One Missed Call, The Orphanage, Romulus My Father