The Savages, a film written and directed by Tamara Jenkins, opens in a broader release today. And it is kicking up a critical dust storm.
It has been nine years since Jenkins last showcased her work on the screen with the release of The Slums of Beverly Hills, and from all indications, the long pause between films has been well worth the wait. Since female writer-directors are not the norm in Hollywood filmmaking, a watchful eye has been kept on Jenkins. In a recent interview about the new film, Jenkins discusses the difficulty of getting such a heavy topic made and distributed as a film. I mean really, who would think that a movie about two 40-year-old siblings grudgingly forced into trying to find a suitable nursing home for their aging demented parent could be something critics would encourage audiences to rush out and see?
Oh boy, oh boy; I love a good, lighthearted, Happy Holiday movie! Wait. Aging parent? Dementia? Nursing homes? Mortality? Not quite the time of year for that story line, now is it? I suppose there is never a good time of year to confront the tough issues life throws on our paths. But Jenkins’ film has apparently touched a chord and somehow found the required balance of comedy and drama to make the subject work in the most dramatic and audience-connected way.
The movie stars Laura Linney and Phillip Seymour Hoffman as competitive siblings thrust into one of life’s modern-day dilemmas. What to do with an aging parent when you are rather busy living your own life on your own terms? The added complication is that both siblings are estranged from their father and have only a tolerant connection with each other. Here’s the trailer:
Having Linney and Hoffman in the same film makes the movie one that I would see even if it received mixed reviews. But hey, it seems that I won’t have to sit around and justify why I am donating my hard-earned cash on this one. As globalgrrl pointed out, Jenkins has garnered two Spirit Award nominations for both Best Screenplay and Best Direction for the film.
Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Tamara Jenkins and Laura Linney
Another great thing about new movies being released is that it brings the actors out for interviews and appearances. Yay to that! Laura Linney has played so many roles that she really doesn’t have a type, but when she is on screen, you know you are watching a skilled veteran. In an L.A. Times article, Linney describes her character, Wendy Savage, this way: “She’s not a typical protagonist. She lies, she cheats, she steals, she’s in a relationship with a married man. She’s emotionally really immature, and yet she is also capable of great empathy, she’s very smart and she’s a total narcissist. She’s this contradiction of things, like one of those wave machines, she goes to one side and then the other. She’s all over the place.”
Hmmm, so basically, the character sounds like a multi-layered personality. My goodness, she may even come across as human. Now that’s my kind of entertainment!