The Savages

In the social sciences, I think they call a family like this "toxic." The two main characters, a brother and a sister, flawlessly played by Philip Seymour Hoffman ("Capote" and "State and Main") and Laura Linney ("P.S." and "Mystic River"), are the offspring of a selfish, domineering, hateful old widower, whose girlfriend dies at the very beginning of the film. It seems that the couple had their own version of a "Pre-nup" at her Sun City home, so he is evicted before her corpse has cooled. Her children quickly put her house on the market and his children must rush to Arizona to try to evaluate what needs to be done.

In very short order, they discover that he is bellicose and mentally failing, thus is unwelcome at most facilities that care for the elderly. Hoffmann's character sees things pretty clearly and is prepared to take the necessary practical steps. Linney's, on the other hand, is horrified to think they are going to institutionalize their father and is neither happy nor very cooperative about it.

This is NOT a pleasant film. It is, however, brilliantly written, directed and acted. One actor in particular who is worthy of note, other than the aforementioned Hoffman and Linney, is Philip Bosco who plays their father, Lenny Savage. This guy is one of those familiar faces you have seen in dozens of secondary roles all the way back to 1961. In this one, his pivotal role is amazingly well acted. His explosive temper, his frustrations and his failings all contribute to his children's dilemma. His children, on the other hand, are Boomers to the core. Both have an artistic bent, both are writers who have enjoyed varied levels of success, both love to sample any and all available pharmaceuticals and seem to be the perfect out-picturing of the crippling effects of dysfunctional parenting.

This film is due to be released at Christmas. I'm glad I saw it; you'll have to make up your own mind.