Monday, December 24, 2007


I loathed this movie. I wanted to walk out. If you've seen the previews and think this is this year's Little Miss Sunshine, forget about it! Go see Juno instead. The previews make you think: oh a dark but sweet comedy about a brother and sister who come together under untoward circumstances and grow through the circumstances.

The previews also tell you all you need to know about the plot: brother and sister have to figure out what to do with Dad who is getting dementia. They put him in a nursing home.

That's it. What the previews don't show is that these three people are about the most miserable, depressed, duplicitous, emotionally shut-down characters on the planet. I mean, honestly, they are pathetic, evoking judgment, not compassion, at least from this blogger. Do they grow and change? Yeah, a little. But their progress is trifling.

Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman are good actors, obviously. They are lauded for everything they do, but I have to say I'm sick of Hoffman. This is his second of three movies this year (Before the Devil Knows Your Dead and Charlie Wilson's War). He's overexposed, overweight, unattractive, and his talent seems tied up in knots to me, like he's turning in on himself and becoming predictable.

There are some supporting characters who actually breathe some life into the movie: the married man who Wendy Savage (Linney) is having an affair with. He at least seems alive and passionate, not drugged like Linney (frequent references to her medications show that this was actually a choice made by the writer, director, and actor--to have her seem semi-catatonic, like someone on xanax, prozac, and vicodan all at the same time). And she almost has a little sexual encounter with a male nurse from Trinidad. He was cool and quirky. Oh, and Jon Savage's girlfriend, a Polish woman--she has two scenes and some charm.

One interesting point was not developed. At one point we learn that Wendy Savage received a FEMA grant for lost wages due to 911, and maybe even some post traumatic stress syndrome, who knows. It's a touching scene where she explains that in fact that event really did blow a hole through her professional, and, we assume, personal life. It's affecting and I realized: temporary office workers (many of them "theater people" like Wendy Savage) who worked in downtown Manhattan during that horrible period were probably really affected. Now that would be an interesting movie.

I admit there might be a thousand reasons why I didn't like this movie that might have nothing to do with the movie. The truth is, we sometimes just aren't in the mood, or maybe the movie is striking too close to home, but I've said it before, and I'll say it again, a good movie needs to have at least one likable character, and it should probably be a protagonist. The characters in this movie are just unlikable. It's a total downer.


Anonymous said...

Wow, that was on my list to see. I agree about Philip Seymour Hoffman being overexposed, but I still love him and Laura Linney. Perhaps a Netflix when I'm in a melancholy mood then?

CP said...

I like PSH a lot. Maybe he's overexposed, but I guess I need to get myself out to the movies more to feel that pain.

I've had friends tell me I should see Savagery b/c my sibs and I are going through a related story line with our mom. I've shied away from seeing it for the same reason.

After your review of Savagery, maybe I should just rent Away from Her, but I'm still chickening out on that one, too. (Maybe you reviewed that one in an earlier post?)